As the hazelnut catkins put on their chartreuse shimmer, the daffodils push their way through the frozen earth, the newest of nettle leaves bravely open up to the growing daylight, spring is making its way to Vashon.
To those of us who grow a garden, this is a brief time where the energy of our excited anticipation outweighs the actual tasks that need doing outside. We busy ourselves by looking at pictures of beautiful gardens, perusing seed catalogs and websites, and making big plans for the year ahead.
It’s time for Vashon’s annual Seed Share! The Seed Share will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, at Dig Deep, at 19028 Vashon Hwy SW.
For over 10 years, a group of hearty seed lovers has hosted the annual Seed Share. It was started by my dear friend and seed mentor, Lotus. She would bring seeds to the library, or the Farmers Market, to give away all year. She loved plants and seeds and taught me the importance of giving them freely for folks to grow food, flowers, and community.
Now, we host the Seed Share in her memory and honor her contributions to our island.
Seed Shares are an important part of keeping seed traditions alive.
Only in the past 100 years or so have seeds been bought and sold by companies and corporations. Seeds have always moved around the earth being shared or traded, person to person, community to community, through forced and chosen human migrations.
Seeds want and need to be shared by human hands. Local seed shares are a wonderful way to meet new people, learn tips and tricks of gardening and share stories about the plants we grow and the seeds we save. I have grown out many seed treasures and made many new friends over my years of attending seed shares.
Everyone is invited and welcome at the Seed Share — you do not need to bring seeds to attend.
The seeds are abundant and we usually end up with more seeds at the end of the share than we started with.
But please bring seeds if you have them! We love sharing seed packets that you won’t use, seeds you saved in paper bags and plastic tubs; seeds for varieties that you didn’t like or didn’t work for you; seeds you bought but won’t ever have time and space to grow.
One person’s yucky tomato is another’s best-ever BLT sandwich! This year we are also offering space for people to bring unwanted but still usable gardening tools, various gardening doodads, gardening books, and other useful garden-related things. Let’s reuse and repurpose our unwanted gardening supplies.
Finally, to encourage and inspire more Island-wide seed saving, we are trying out a new idea based on a popular library program — but with seeds, called “If All of Vashon Grew the Same Seed.”
At this year’s seed share, we will be handing out envelopes of lettuce and marigold seeds to anyone who wants to participate. We will post photos and tutorials throughout the growing season about what to do in each stage of the plants’ growth. We will highlight the seed-saving process, how to find the best plants to save seed from, when to harvest the seeds, and finally how to clean and store the seeds.
Hopefully, we have lots to share at next year’s Seed Share. My hope is that through community seed projects we can grow our skills, our connection to one another, and our enthusiasm for seed growing and saving.
The Seed Share is an opportunity to connect with your neighbors and be reminded of the power of seeds. To be inspired by their simplicity and complexity; to learn the ways seeds draw you into deeper understandings of ecology and the web of life.
Be open to the ways that seeds call to us from the past, hold us in the present, and pull us forward into the future. Contemplate the complex questions that seeds bring to the surface about history, our ancestry, and our obligations to future generations. Commit to the opportunities to begin to repair past harms through growing and sharing seeds. To repeat a popular but no less profound quote by Vandana Shiva, “Seed is not just the source of life, it is the very foundation of our being.” Come join us!
Jen Williams is the owner of Wild Dreams Farm and Seed. More about her work, including contact information, can be found at wilddreamsfarm.org.
Jen writes: “Yes, it may seem odd that the operator of a seed business would hostess and donate freely to an annual seed share, but truly I want seeds to be available to anyone who wants and needs them. Feel free to contact me any time if you have any seed needs.”