Seeds will be swapped and Shuswap community members will have a chance to share gardening knowledge at the upcoming South Shuswap seed swap.
Rebekah Smith started the southern Shuswap version of the seed swap in 2018. She held a swap in 2019 and 2020, and then held off the following two years due to the pandemic. This year the seed swap returns. The South Shuswap event is separate from the Shuswap seed swap in Enderby, and will be held at the Sorrento Memorial Hall, 1150 Passchendaele Rd., Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The seed swap bloomed out of Smith’s lifelong passion for gardening and nurturing plants of all kinds. She grew up raising animals and growing plants. Smith said as a kid, she couldn’t wait for her birthday to come around in January because new planting supplies like seeds, pots and soil would be available in stores ready for spring.
“It was so exciting,” Smith said. “I think kids always thought, ‘It’s so boring to have a birthday in January because you can’t do as much,’ but for me, I couldn’t wait for that time of year.”
While seed swaps aren’t new, Smith wanted to give herself and people in her community a way to share gardening knowledge and trade seeds for plants that they might not have themselves.
“It was small just starting out,” said Smith. “But like a seed, it starts small and then it just grows.”
Smith plans the seed swap for late February each year because, as she says, there is not a lot to do in February in the cold, drab weather, and it gives people something to look forward to. Smith said she loves that the event allows people to look forward to spring and think about things growing and blooming, and she said it can help with mental health struggles to think positively about the future like that.
The free community seed swap will also feature a market, food and drink vendors, and live entertainment. The seed swap table itself will be free, so prospective gardeners can take and leave seeds easily. So far, Smith has lined up farmers’ market style vendors, selling things like produce, honey, gardening tools and indigenous crafts. There is still some space left if additional vendors are interested. Vendors can contact Rachel Barker through Facebook direct messaging for further information.
“I want to embrace my skills and the homestead lifestyle,” said Smith. “How to grow your own food and sustain yourself is a timely topic. That’s the origin of seed swaps too; teaching each other how to grow things they might not know themselves, getting the community together to learn, teach and share so we can help each other.”
The Canadian charity Seeds of Diversity protects the country’s seed biodiversity by nurturing and growing vulnerable varieties of seeds. While Smith is not a member of the charity, Seeds of Diversity provides her with information and help, and has packaged and sent out seed libraries for community initiatives like the South Shuswap seed swap. The organization has more than 1,000 members, all passionate about gardening and food security. Funding for the charity comes mainly from donations made by both members and non-members. Tiered membership is available at the Seeds of Diversity website.