Gardeners in New Brunswick are learning the importance of collecting seeds from their vegetable gardens following a gardening boom and seed shortage brought on by the pandemic.
Alicia Clarkson is the coordinator for The Peter McKee Food Centre’s community garden located in Moncton.
“As we have all seen in the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic the interest in gardening has gone up, but the interest in seed saving hasn’t necessarily gone up,” said Clarkson.
On Tuesday, Clarkson held a community seed saving forum at the garden to teach gardeners how to collect seeds from their own plants to be used for next year’s crop.
“You are literally saving your seeds, putting them in a little box, and you are putting next year’s garden away in the fall for next year,” she said.
Clarkson says the idea to hold a workshop on seed harvesting was prompted by a shortage of fruit and vegetable seeds at the height of the pandemic last year.
“I had gardeners coming up to me and saying, you know, ‘I cannot find seeds anywhere, everyone is sold out,'” she said.
Elaine Mandrona who is a community food mentor with NB Community Food Mentors organized the seminar. She said that collecting your own seeds makes you more self-sufficient as a gardener.
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“You don’t have to buy things, you don’t have to commodify plants and seeds; it is all available and we can help each other do it as well. It can be a community builder,” said Mandrona.
Clarkson said that seed saving also lends to healthier, more robust gardens for future years.
“Every year your seed gets a little more suited to your environment,” she said.
Clarkson said that knowing where to find and how to collect the seeds from various plants takes some practice, “anyone can do it you just need the time and the patience,” she said.
In the end, she said that every seed collected represents a little piece of history that can be passed on from one season and even one generation to the next.
“I have a number of seeds in my collection that are 100’s of years old that were saved again and again, year after year, to save that little piece of history.”