Seedy Saturday an inspiration for local gardeners

Eight-year-old Cameron Spence of Thessalon at Clean North’s Worm Composting table, during Seedy Saturday.

For some gardeners, the local season runs roughly from June to October.

For others, it’s a year-round passion.

Seedy Saturday, perhaps the biggest event for the Horticultural Society of Sault Se. Marie, appeals to both groups.

Always a popular event with area gardeners, Seedy Saturday drew hundreds to the First Baptist Church, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday.

“There’s a lot of really neat vendors here with a lot of different seeds and products for gardening,” said Courtney Shuker, of Richard’s Landing. “It’s very popular, very busy today. It’s good to see people getting out and enjoying local events.”

A self-confessed wanna-be gardener, Shuker is looking to improve her results of last year, her first as a gardener. 

“I don’t have a very good green thumb, but I try,” said Shuker. “Maybe, in year two, I’ll be a little more successful than last year. I grew some vegetables, lettuce, a cherry tomato, and I planted some herbs. Just some easy stuff to get me started. But if I’m being honest, I didn’t do so well. I mean the lettuce did well, but that was pretty much it. Hopefully, in year two, it’ll be better. We’ll see.”

Courtney Walton is a new member of the Horticultural Society. She began gardening a few years ago but took the last two years off.

She’s grown vegetables in the past, and now wants to branch out to watermelons and cucamelons.

“I figured this was the place to start, to get inspired,” said Walton. “I’m a new member but it’s been great so far. If anyone wants to join, I feel like, don’t be discouraged if you’re a new gardener because (the Horticultural Society) is great for all levels of gardening.”

Andrea Aubertin, President of the Horticultural Society of Sault Ste. Marie, says a primary objective of Seedy Saturday is to promote seed collecting and seed preservation.

“The main point of Seedy Saturday is to get people thinking about collecting their own seeds,” said Aubertin. “Seeds of diversity, too, making sure we don’t lose any of those specialty seeds that you wouldn’t normally see in big box stores or anything.”

A popular feature of Seedy Saturday is The Seed Swap, where attendees can trade some of the seeds they’ve collected with others.

“It’s just nice that you can share your seeds with other people who want to try them,” Aubertin said. “It’s not always a full package of seeds that one would buy in a store, it’s smaller packages, but we sell them for only 50 cents so you can try many different varieties without breaking the bank.”

The event also included vendors selling produce, seeds and gardening products, children’s activities, guest speakers as well as light food fare and refreshments.

Jeffrey Spence was one of the 15 vendors set up at Seedy Saturday. He’s a beekeeper and along with his wife, Lisa, owns and operates Red Roof Honey in Thessalon.

“I’m here today because pollinators are such an integral part of gardening and our ecosystem,” said Spence. “The Sault Ste. Marie Horticultural Society has done such an amazing job setting this up for us, and I’m happy to be back. This is our second year here.”

If you thought you saw more bees in the area last summer, you were right, according to Spence.

“Was last year a better year for bees? Absolutely,” said Spence. “I do find that there’s a lot more small-scale beekeepers in the area, which is a great thing. The more beekeepers we have, the more awareness we have, and the better it’s going to be for everyone.”

Spence came by beekeeping in a modest, unassuming way. 

“We started as a way to show our kids how pollinators work,” explained Spence. “And it’s just become such a passion for us that we just have to keep going.”

Many of the vendors were busy Saturday and Spence’s table was one of them. How could he possibly miss with jars of Red Roof’s own honey neatly stacked and clearly visible?

“We have our favourite, liquid raw honey. We also have our creamed honeys, cinnamon cream honey is one of our household favourites. Our new hot honey is the absolute best on pizza, cheeses…we haven’t found anything it doesn’t go well with.”

Wilding Acres, owned by the Wilding family, has been a fixture at Seedy Saturday for several years, dating back to when the event was held at Sault College in the mid-2000s. Christopher Wilding was one of the speakers at this year’s event.

“Seedy Saturday is great because it gives people a chance to get some nice seeds, local seeds that you cannot get elsewhere,” says Christopher Wilding. “If you’re planting your own seeds and you can plant a few plants yourself, you can grow better food than you’ll get anywhere else, and at a lower cost. It takes a little more time, but it pays off in the end.”

Wilding said his table featured some of the onions and potatoes from the family cold room, brought to the event so people could see them.

“We also brought some onion seedlings that we’re going to plant in our greenhouse pretty soon,” he said.

“It’s super busy. I was quite impressed,” says Wilding of this year’s edition of Seedy Saturday. “We were setting up just ahead of the 9 a..m. start and you could see people coming in. I see lots of people from the farmer’s markets in the summer. It’s nice to see them, too, because we haven’t seen any of those people since October when we closed up.”

Seedy Saturday is one of two major events for the Sault’s Horticultural Society. The next big event is the Society’s Plant Sale, May 24, which will offer up plants grown by the Society and donated ones. 

Aubertin, in her third year as the Horticultural Society’s President, says the group promotes gardening and education to the public throughout the year. She encourages people to attend the Society’s monthly meetings, usually held the first Monday of each month.

She says her first two years have gone well, and the current focus in developing the Society’s social media component.

“We try to donate to charitable organizations, that’s part of our mandate, that we donate some. It’s about getting people more involved in our community. More seasoned gardeners can teach others who want to get into gardening.”

Author

  • Ron Jokelainen

    Ron has returned to writing and reporting after 27 years with Ontario Lottery & Gaming. He began as a staff writer with OLG in 1994 before moving to Sports Marketing in 1997. He retired as a Senior sports analyst in 2021. Prior to OLG, Ron worked in radio and print journalism in the Sault and Simcoe. Folks may remember Ron "Williams" with CFYN-CHAS in the early 90s A graduate of Windsor's St. Clair College Journalism program, Ron lists drumming, gardening and walking among his favourite hobbies.

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