Heather Shobe, Nancy Roussel, Kirsty Allen and Ann Marshall (background) of Alberni Growers Collective are ready to answer questions at their Spirit Square Farmers Market booth. (FILE PHOTO BY MIKE YOUDS/ Special to the AV News)

Heather Shobe, Nancy Roussel, Kirsty Allen and Ann Marshall (background) of Alberni Growers Collective are ready to answer questions at their Spirit Square Farmers Market booth. (FILE PHOTO BY MIKE YOUDS/ Special to the AV News)

Alberni Valley’s Seedy Saturday welcomes spring

Annual event returns after COVID-19 interruption

After falling dormant for two years, Alberni Valley Seedy Saturday is back.

The 2022 event will take place Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Char’s Landing in Port Alberni. This will be an outdoor event, rain or shine, with vendors under tents in the Char’s parking lot at the corner of Argyle Street and Fifth Avenue.

Jen Fisher-Bradley and her husband Stephen organized the first AV Seedy Saturday event in 2017 as an offshoot of their Women’s Food and Water Initiative (WFWI). In 2018 the event moved to Char’s Landing and took off—drawing 400 people in 2019. The 2020 event was cancelled at the last minute due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, and organizers felt it was too risky to hold it in 2021.

The Bradleys recently moved to Nova Scotia, but the spirit of what they started has been a boost for this year’s organizers. “This is a celebration of spring but also bringing the community back together,” said Mike Youds, a WFWI director and event organizer. This year’s event is taking place one day before the official start of spring, and Youds anticipates there will be an even bigger crowd as COVID-19 restrictions are lifting and people are starting to gather together again.

“Green thumbs are getting pretty itchy at this time of year.”

The event will feature at least a dozen seed, starter plant and shrub vendors from the Alberni-Clayoquot region as well as elsewhere on Vancouver Island. The Port Alberni Shelter Farm will be there, as will the Alberni Valley Growers Collective.

“Yes, the west coast blueberry man will be there again,” Youds added. “A lot of people ask after him.”

Members of the Vancouver Island Master Gardeners will return, with members from the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area coming to provide expert gardening advice to the public.

Aside from the growing list of vendors, a number of community groups will also be on site. These groups include Alberni Valley Growers Collective, Uptown Urban Farming Collective and Seed Exchange, Tofino Community Food Initiative, WFWI, Alberni Valley Nature Club, Alberni Climate Action Group and Ocean Friendly Port Alberni.

This year’s event comes with a theme: The Victory Garden, which hearkens back to both world wars. Canadians were encouraged to plant “victory” gardens, or “war” gardens during the First and Second World Wars as a way to supplement rations, as well as to boost morale.

“It demonstrated everybody’s capacity to get out there and grow their own food,” Youds said. Seedy Saturday organizers thought it was a fitting theme as people are coming out of a two-year struggle with the pandemic. Many took up backyard gardening as a way to handle all the isolation, while others are now looking at growing their own food as a measure of security.

“I don’t think food security has been more prominently in the public’s mind than it has with supply line interruptions we’ve seen in the last two years,” Youds said. “We can gain from this by learning to grow our own food and process our own food as well.

“You can’t replace your local grocer but you can certainly supplement it.”

Seedy Saturday takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot at Char’s Landing, 4815 Argyle St. at Fifth Avenue. Admission is by donation in exchange for hourly door prize tickets. Alberni Valley Transition Town will have its Bike Valet available for people wishing to store their bicycles while they browse the vendor tents.

For more information, check out the AV Seedy Saturday Facebook page at www.facebook.com/avseedysaturday.

AgricultureAlberni Valleygardening