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Bean named to honour Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday founder

Joy Smith thought Seedy Saturday would be a hit in Qualicum Beach — and she was right
Joy Smith leads a group of seed savers as they prepare for Seedy Saturday in Qualicum Beach.

It has been a full decade since Qualicum Beach’s Seedy Saturday event first opened its doors and organizers are planning to honour one of the people who planted the seed to get the event growing.

Joy Smith learned about the Seeds of Diversity Heritage Seed Program while listening to Peter Gzowski on CBC radio. At that time, she was gardening on acreage near Brandon, Manitoba and decided to focus on growing beans and saving their seed.

Using her own beans and herbs, she developed soup mixes, and sold them at prairie craft fairs as she continued to do after her move to B.C. She became a vendor at the VanDusen Botanical Garden Seedy Saturday and, when asked to make a presentation about saving bean seeds, she realized that gardeners in Qualicum Beach could benefit from this kind of event.

That seed was planted and, with a few other like minded gardeners, the first Seedy Saturday in Qualicum Beach took root.

Over the years the event has grown and now draws over 2,400 people.  It is now put together by a 10-person volunteer committee drawn from the local gardening community.

Smith has been part of this committee for nine years and this is her first year as an observer. However, she is still an integral part of the group as the committee meets, monthly September through December and then weekly, until the big day, at her home where she always welcomes committee members and can be relied on for Seedy Saturday help whenever it’s needed.

In her honour, the Seedy Saturday Committee has adopted the bean variety, Everbearing Joy into the Canadian Seed Library.

This partnership-based program of Seeds of Diversity (SoDC) was formed four years ago and it functions to make heirloom seeds accessible to the public.

Smith continues with her seed preservation work through her support of Seedy Saturday, Seeds of Diversity and the local gardening community.

She still maintains her own vegetable plot at home and in the community garden, although she now saves heirloom varieties of endangered tomatoes and lettuce.  Ironically, the climate here has limited her success with saving bean seeds as it is difficult for them to dry to maturity.

She has been encouraging students at Kwalikum Secondary School to develop their Organic Garden and she is responsible for their winter garden full of carrots, chard, garlic and kale.

This year, when you attend Seedy Saturday, remember that you wouldn’t be there if it hadn’t been for Joy and her dedicated group of seed savers.

Seedy Saturday is slated for Feb. 4 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.