Success sown at ‘Seed Swap’

Find out why dozens of people took their native-plant seeds to the library in Mill Park, and learn what they took home …

This outer East Portland “Seed Swap” party at Midland Library proves to be a backyard farmer’s delight.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Backyard – and front lawn – gardeners got a head start on the season when they turned out in large numbers on January 27 at the first-ever “Seed Swap”, held in the large meeting room in Midland Library.

“It’s an opportunity for community members to share see that they’ve saved from their gardens,” said host Grow Portland Executive Director David Beller.

Grow Portland Community Education Coordinator Christopher LaRose, Seed Saving Coordinator Jenny London, and Executive Director David Beller welcome participants to their “Seed Swap”.

“We’re trying to help people discover new and interesting varieties of vegetables that they can grow here, in this part of town,” Beller told East Portland News.

He and his team were both surprised and pleased at the turnout, Beller said. “We had 50 people sign up in advance, and it looks as if we’ll have as many as 100 people today coming and sharing seeds of special varieties of vegetables.”

Richard Dickinson shows seeds he’s localized for optimized growing, including parsnip, arugula, and huauzontle, a Mexican vegetable that resembles broccoli.

Happy with the event was Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood Richard Dickinson, who said he was pleased to share some of the seeds he’s collected over the years, from his garden.

“This event is a lot of fun, and it’s important to me,” Dickinson said. “That’s because we need to retain ownership of the genetic rights to our seeds, allowing us to propagate and then grow our own seed – instead of planting something from a package.”

Beller agreed, “That’s right; this is an effort to de-commodify seeds, and the plants and food that come from them. A lot of our basic needs around food, healthcare, and water are all commodified. This is a way to help have one of neighbors’ needs met, open and freely.”

Lizabeta Kuznetsov and Fokla Barsukoff trade seeds with Moonrose Doherty.

Another good thing about this kind of “Seed Swap” Beller observed, is that local gardeners are able to select varieties and strains of seeds that are well adapted to our area and climate.

All who spoke with us agreed: Sharing urban agriculture stories and trading seeds was fun opportunity for people to meet around gardening.

Find out more about Grow Portland at their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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