Despite this week’s snow showers, the time to put the first seeds in the ground is coming up fast, and the annual Kelowna Seed Swap this Saturday is a unique opportunity to find rare and heritage options.
Organizer Jon Alcock, of Sunshine Farm in southeast Kelowna, notes that two of the varieties of tomatoes he has available have actually been rescued from oblivion by Seeds of Diversity and he now grows them.
Both are varieties developed some 40 years ago by what is now the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland, and were commercially grown in that era, but they no longer are grown for major markets.
Both the Summerjet and the Sugawara were developed at Summerland for their resistance to verticillium, a fungus that can attack tomato plants, with disastrous results.
“When I saw them available through Seeds of Diversity, I knew I had to grow them,” comments Alcock, who grows a wide variety of heritage tomatoes, in all colours and stripes, and offers the seeds for sale at the seed swap and through his website: www.sunshinefarm.net
Alcock says he is encouraged to see more and more people planting a garden and producing some of their own food.
“We are even getting requests from schools wanting to have a garden. University students want to learn how to produce food, access space to do so, and mentoring urban gardeners producing great quantities of food on unused garden space in backyards. People wanting to learn what our parents’ generation took for granted—how to grow food in a garden,” he commented.
He notes that many varieties of food plants which have been dropped by the large corporate seed companies over the years can still be found at events such as this.
More such seed swaps are being held across the continent too.
This is the eighth or ninth year the Alcocks have organized the seed swap in Kelowna, being held in ‘The Pit’ at Okanagan College on KLO Road again this year, with seven regional seed sellers offering open pollinated heritage varieties at their booths.
As well, there will be people selling ancillary products such as garlic, plants, honey, grains from Fieldstone Granary in Armstrong and other artisanal products.
Organizations such as the community gardens society, Okanagan Heritage Society and Seeds of Diversity, which will have a seed swap table where you can take your seeds to exchange, will also be there hosting booths.
The event is being held in conjunction with the Travelling World Community Film Festival.
The Seed Swap takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 12.