You would think that during the colder winter months you would see the farm community with a little more time to kick back and take a holiday. These days that seems to be a bit of a fallacy. I was surprised to hear from Robin Tunnicliffe of Saanich Organics that December was their biggest month this year.
Robin said that market sales have been bustling. That certainly says something about our Island growing season and also points to a keen and growing interest in local food year round. It may seem that planting season is a ways off, however this is the time of year to get your planning done and source your seeds. Although garden stores are increasingly carrying local seeds well adapted to our area, in my opinion you can’t beat meeting the seed growers and distributors first hand. The way to do that is to head to one of the many “Seedy Saturday” occurring in our region over the next few months.
The Saanich Seedy Saturday was held at The Gardens at HCP on Jan. 12 and showcased an abundance of local certified organic seeds along with tasty produce, children’s activities, and many quality vendors. Guest Speaker Dr. Trevor Hancock, spoke on the topic of “Feeding a One Planet Region” touching on how the District of Saanich leads the way with One Planet Living initiatives
If you missed that one, not to worry you can head to the Victoria Conference Center on Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Seedy Saturday 2019 is organized by the James Bay Market and you can follow this link to learn all about what is in store. They boast that “over a dozen of the islands’ finest seed producers” will be on hand and that “ You’ll also find an abundance of other delightful and delectable things to grow from tubers, corms, bulbs, whips, and starts, all sold by knowledgeable local growers” . Also on hand will be plenty of advice, tools and gardening supplies. There will be many local garden societies, volunteer opportunities, and educational programs available to gardeners, and as per usual, a series of great informative workshops.
You could also “Gear up for Gardening” at Sooke’s 10th annual Seedy Saturday. It will be held on February 23, 2019 from 10am- 3pm at the Sooke Community Hall on 2037 Shields Road. Sooke Food CHI organizes this event that will host a range of seed and plant vendors, a seed exchange table, plus educational displays featuring information on everything from composting, to keeping bees, workshops, and a Kids Zone for a great family-friendly event.
The 2019 Islands Agriculture Show is also just around the corner, being held at the Saanich Fairgrounds this year. The theme is “Prospering in a Time of Uncertainty.” The event website promotes the show that “provides a venue for farmers, rural landowners, farm organizations, equipment dealers, service providers and the general public to learn, connect and engage”. The show will be held February 1-2, and will host a trade show and conference sessions on everything from Army Worms to Aquaponics.
Another event coming to the region again this winter is Farmer2Farmer. This year the regional farm community will focus on Climate Change. What is the science telling us we will see in the future, what are we already noticing and what do we need to learn and do to adapt going forward? The event will be held February 28th at the Saanich Fairgrounds; you will be able to register at www.farmer2farmer.ca.
So whether you are a backyard grower or commercial farmer there is certainly lots to keep you busy in your down time over the winter!
Come on Saanich, let’s get growing!
Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.