Swapping Seeds

Springing into winter

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It’s hard to imagine planting seeds in the ground when the terra firma is frozen solid, but, believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to see in your spring and summer gardens—whether it’s an heirloom tomato patch, green beans that reach toward the sky, a zigzagging line of red and orange poppies, or simply enough lettuce to keep you and your family in the green for a few months.

Although you probably won’t be able to head outside and get your hands dirty for a little while yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for the future. For example, it’s never too early to write up a list of what you’re hoping to grow this year, and think about where you’re going to put whatever you choose. 

Seed catalogs are a great place to get bright ideas, but might we suggest you also look for inspiration closer to home? “Getting Seeds Into the Hands of the People,” a Community Seed Swap happening Sun., Jan. 27 at the Majestic, aims to not only get people excited about the upcoming planting season, but also provide them with the organic matter to make their digging dreams come true. 

Put on by Sustainable Bellingham, the event is not just intended for those with leftover seeds from the last year or two on their hands. Even if you don’t have anything to swap, organizers say you’ll be welcome to show up and collect your fair share of growing goods. 

If you’re bringing seeds to swap, there are a few rules to follow. Whatever you do, don’t bring Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) along.

As part of its mission statement, Sustainable Bellingham is dedicated to “becoming self and community-reliant (not self-sufficient) at the local level and rebuilding communities based on the local production of food, energy and goods as well as the relocalization of governance and culture.” GMOs have no place here, in other words. (Squash seeds are also on the “thanks, but no thanks” list.)

Participants are also asked to label their seeds—which can include heirloom seeds, packaged seeds, edible tubers and seed potatoes—and bring extra envelopes to share. After the doors open at 1pm, organizers will school attendees on “swap etiquette” and share stories. At 2pm, Celt Schira will lead a “Basic Seed Saving” talk. Other than that, those who show up are welcome to trade seeds until the doors close.

Judging by the pictures from last year’s event on Sustainable Bellingham’s Facebook page—which feature dozens of warmly dressed people hunkered around a variety of long tables sussing out the seeds—the event is obviously a popular winter destination for those who are counting the days until the ground thaws and they can start producing their own food and flowers again.

Even if you don’t have a lot of space to plant or haven’t been able to muster up the enthusiasm to get excited about spring, it’s a good bet that attending the Community Seed Swap will give you ideas—whether they’re big, small or somewhere in between. The days are already getting longer, and, before you know it, you’ll be cleaning dirt out of your fingernails and complaining about weeds.

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