After being inactive for two years, Alberni Valley Seedy Saturday is back.
The 2022 event will take place on Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Char’s Landing in Port Alberni. It will be an outdoor event, rain or shine, with vendors under tents in the Char parking lot at the corner of Argyle Street and Fifth Avenue.
Jen Fisher-Bradley and her husband Stephen hosted the first AV Seedy Saturday event in 2017 as part of their Women’s Food and Water Initiative (WFWI). In 2018 the event moved to Char’s Landing and took off – attracting 400 people in 2019. The 2020 event was canceled at the last minute due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown, and the 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 was a boost for organizers this year. “It’s a celebration of spring but also a community gathering,” said Mike Youds, WFWI director and event organizer. This year’s event takes place a day before the official start of spring, and Youds predicts there will be even bigger crowds as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and people start to gather again.
“Green thumbs get pretty irritating this time of year.”
The event will feature at least a dozen seed, starter plant and shrub vendors from the Alberni-Clayoquot area as well as elsewhere on Vancouver Island. The Port Alberni Shelter Farm will be there, as will the Alberni Valley Growers Collective.
“Yeah, the West Coast Blueberry Man will be here again,” Youds added. “A lot of people ask after him.”
Members of the Vancouver Island Master Gardeners will be returning, and members from the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area will be providing expert gardening advice to the public.
Along with the growing list of vendors, a number of community groups will also be on hand. 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 is accompanied by a theme: the garden of victory, which recalls the two world wars. Canadians were encouraged to plant “victory” or “war” gardens during the First and Second World Wars to supplement rations and boost morale.
“It demonstrated everyone’s ability to go out and grow their own food,” Youds said. Seedy Saturday organizers thought it was an appropriate theme as people emerge from a two-year battle with the pandemic. Many have taken up home gardening as a way to deal with all the isolation, while others are now considering growing their own food as a safety measure.
“I don’t think food safety has been on the public mind any more than it has been with the supply chain disruptions we’ve seen over the past two years,” said Yods. “We can benefit from this by learning to grow our own food and also process our own food.
“You can’t replace your local grocer but you can certainly complement it.”
Seedy Saturday takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Char’s Landing parking lot, 4815 Argyle St. at Fifth Avenue. Admission is by donation in exchange for hourly tickets. The Transition Town of Alberni Valley will make its bike valet available for people who want to store their bikes while they browse the vendor tents.
For more information, check out AV Seedy Saturday’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/avseedysaturday.