MANITOWANING—Debajehmujig Storytellers intern Iain Mather has been involved in the Debaj Seed Swap for a couple of years now, first as a Woofer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) volunteer and now as an intern, but he was pretty excited by the turnout this year.
“Things went pretty well,” he said. “We had about 60 people come out this year. Last year we had about 20 to 30.”
Mr. Mather, who along with fellow intern Samantha Brennan organized this year’s Seed Swap, suggested the uptick in attendance may be in part due to the 10 vendors that were offering wares at the event this year.
The Seed Swap, for those as yet uninitiated into the concept, is an annual gathering to swap and share garden seeds at the Debajehmujig Creation in Manitowaning enjoying its 6th iteration. This year the event ran from 1 pm to 4 pm, three hours of jam-packed garden information and seed bartering topped off with a community potluck—and almost best of all, it’s free.
Among the presentations at this year’s Seed Swap were the annual garden update, worm composting and mushroom growing with Manitoulin Shiitake Mushrooms.
Attendees were also encouraged to bring along their favourite musical instrument to “help raise the energy for the planting season” at the Seed Swap coffee house.
While the Seed Swap focusses primarily on heritage seeds, there were plenty of grocery store display varieties available as well.
“We kept it wide open,” said Mr. Mather, who noted the seeds will not go to waste in any event. “We have some experiments we are going to do.”
Seed at the swap include a wide range of vegetables and other edibles, but also seeds for plants that can produce natural dyes, a popular feature for local weavers and textile artists.
Vendors’ wares at this year’s event were eclectic, including gift baskets, micro-greens, herbs, premade salads, soaps and even weaving. But not a lot of baking. “We kind of discouraged baking this year,” admitted Mr. Mather. “We didn’t want to take away from the potluck experience.”
If you missed this year’s event, there is still an opportunity to try a taste of the Debaj-inspired wares at the Creation Centre. For a number of years, the Debaj crew has been producing their own brand of cider vinegar, made from local apples. This year’s batch is just about ready for bottling, and there are a few bottles of previous vintages still available, but not all that much.