It’s getting close to spring planting time, and many of you are probably readying your garden beds and ordering seeds. If you are a seed saver, perhaps you’re taking stock of what you gathered from last year’s harvest. Both experienced and beginner gardeners are invited to attend the Russellville Seed Swap Saturday February 23rd from 2:00-4:00 pm at the All Saints Episcopal Church at 501 South Phoenix. This is a great opportunity to visit with area gardeners, swap seed varieties with neighbors both near and far, and learn more about what others are growing (click here to read last year’s column about the event).
Hosted by the Russellville Community Market and the CAAH (Conserving Arkansas’s Agricultural Heritage) organization, this event is one of fourteen swaps taking place across the state through end of March. The great thing about these events is they are open to everyone, and you don’t have to bring seeds to attend. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to garden. These events are open to anyone who is interested in learning more and getting started saving and growing heirlooms. Members of the CAAH organization will be on hand to share flower and vegetable seeds and answer questions about the importance of seed saving, biodiversity, and food security.
Based out of UCA, the CAAH organization seeks to “empower people to become involved in food production again, one seed at a time.” They run a seed bank on campus, preserving and growing a diverse number of seeds gathered from all around the state. This extensive and every growing seed bank preserves genetic diversity in plants and can serve as a reserve in the case of crop failure. Through these seed swaps and their involvement in the communities, CAAH also works to record the histories and stories of the people behind the plants. If you have a heirloom seed that’s been in your family for generations CAAH would love to hear about it and help save the seeds for future generations.
In connection with Saturday’s event, you’ll want to be sure and check out a showing of the film Seed Swap on the Friday before the swap, February 22 at 3:00 p.m. on the campus of Arkansas Tech University in McEver Room 162. Dr. Brian Campbell, the founder and director of the CAAH organization, will be on hand to show the film and answer questions. This event is co-sponsored by the Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative at ATU and the ATU Anthropology Club and open to everyone in the community. This is a great opportunity to meet others and get involved in seed saving.
For more information about the Friday film showing contact Joshua Lockyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 479-356-2168. For information on Saturday’s swap, contact Carolyn McLellan of the Russellville Community Market at 501-968-6286 or email . We plan to be on hand with the McElroy House Organization (not affiliated with CAAH) to spread the word about our Garden Book publication, documenting and sharing stories from Yell and Pope County Gardeners. Stop by and say hello to us while you’re there!
Here’s an audio montage featuring stories from the 2011 Russellville Swap that we (Boiled Down Juice) produced for the Ozarks at Large program last year:
You can watch a trailer of the Seed Swap film below. More on the film can be found here.
~ The Seed and the Story is a partnership with theCourier and Post Dispatch newspapers in Pope and Yell County, Arkansas. This weekly column explores folklife, oral history, and community in central Arkansas, particularly the Yell County area where the column originates. Columns are often written in partnership with the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action and humbly attempt to bridge intergenerational themes in the region.