Transition: Seed Swap Ukiah Farmers Market Today Saturday 4/21/12 9:30am

Seed Swap in the Ozarks

Seed Swap 
Saturday 4/21/12
9:30am – Noon

Ukiah Farmers Market
Alex Thomas Plaza/School Street

Bring seeds in labeled envelopes
Vegetables, natives, flowers, herbs

Leave seeds at Mulligan Books beforehand
if you cannot attend…

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an
international localization movement
to build community resilience


Ukiah Daily Journal

Peggy Backup, Scott Miller and partner Trudy Morgan sit at the couple’s kitchen table, eating dried pears gleaned from a local orchard and sorting seeds into small, labeled paper envelopes.

The trio and other members of Transition Ukiah Valley are preparing for a seed exchange event taking place Saturday, April 21 at the Ukiah Farmers Market.

The Transition Ukiah Valley group began meeting in 2011. The group is part of a worldwide transition movement that started in the United Kingdom in 2005 to address issues they believe are impacting local communities as the effects of climate change, skyrocketing oil prices and global financial instabilities take hold.

The group holds regular meetings, film and speaker events and interacts with other community organizations. Working groups currently focus upon sustainable housing, resilient livelihoods, health and well-being and food and seed issues. Backup is a member of the Food and Seed working group and is coordinating the Earth Day seed exchange.

“Scott Cratty, the manager for the Farmers Market invited us to the market in celebration of Earth Day,” says Backup.

Backup discusses the importance of seed sharing and saving.

“Seeds are an important issue for our future, because the Monsantos of the world are jeopardizing a safe, organic food source. Small seed companies are coming to Mendocino County because of our non-GMO policies,” says Backup, adding that the group is studying the formation of a local seed bank. Members are visiting other seed banks in Richmond and Berkeley to view their operations, she continues.

The Food and Seed Group is interested in share gardening, supporting farmers markets, marketing local produce, food preservation, food education, chickens, gleaning, and de-lawning. They are beginning to network with the NCO Gardens Project, the Farmers Market, local farmers and CSAs, the Food Policy Council, the Mendo Free Skool, Garden Clubs, churches, Plowshares, the Food Bank, Ukiah Natural Foods, and local schools.

“We’re trying not to reinvent the wheel,” says Backup. “There is a county regional food hub being created. We want to support the creation of a local, resilient, regional food system.”

Seed exchangers should bring seeds in labeled envelopes identifying the type of seed and information about planting and harvesting.

“If it’s not obvious, please include germination information, especially if the plants are difficult to germinate. We hope people bring pesticide-free seeds, but we are not requiring all-organic seeds. We’re not there yet,” she said.

“We’ll have enough seeds for people to take home, whether or not they have seeds to donate,” says Backup. Though there is no charge for seeds, a donation box will be available to help with Transition Ukiah Valley efforts.

The group is bringing birdhouse gourd seeds, flower, arugula, quinoa, and summer and winter squash seeds to the event. They are hoping many gardeners will provide each other with a generous and diverse supply of seeds.

Backup recently harvested several hundred pounds of carrots at Plowshares from the seed of one carrot planted in her home garden.

“We planted them in September and we’ve been harvesting since November. Carrots are a little difficult, but if we did that well, anyone can learn to save seeds. We had carrots to burn,” she said with a smile.

“I think some people take the Farmers Market for granted,” says Backup. “They feel the produce is expensive and that it’s easier to go to the grocery store.

“Our farmers are disappearing and agribusiness is taking over our food supply. Their focus is on monoculture and raising attractive looking food that lacks nutrients and has a long shelf life. We need to support our local farmers,” she emphasizes.

Morgan and Miller are involved with a neighborhood garden-sharing project, a classic Transition endeavor and what Backup describes as a part of “a great, big food revolution.”

“We’ve always had a vegetable garden, but we have a lot of shade. Our neighbor’s front yard has lots of sun, but she wasn’t growing vegetables. We asked her if she would be interested in gardening together, and she loved the idea,” says Morgan.

“While we were preparing the yard, neighbors would drop by and ask what we were doing. It’s really helped to bring the neighborhood together,” says Miller.

The garden-sharing concept is simple.

“You give us soil and sun and we’ll share portions of each other’s garden,” says Morgan. The group has installed a garden in the parsonage yard of Ukiah Methodist Church and will utilize the south side of the property for a winter garden. They share surplus produce with senior church members, Plowshares and the Food Bank.

“We grow far more than we can possibly use,” says Miller.

“Long-distance transportation chains cannot continue to be sustainable as the price of oil continues to increase. The more community resilience we build in, the more we can survive and thrive,” says Backup. “Even if we’re wrong, and the economy doesn’t collapse, what’s wrong with fresh, tasty local food, grown by our local community?

Transition Ukiah Valley is not politically affiliated, and the trio encourages community participation.

“We know we don’t have all the answers. You don’t have to believe in global warming or peak oil. You just have to believe in community,” says Backup.

The next speaker for Transition Ukiah will be Dr. Peter Joseph. Joseph is an emergency physician trained by Vice-President Al Gore to educate the public about global warming. He will review scientific data and discuss the technical and political aspects of climate change. The event is scheduled for Monday, April 23rd at the Saturday Afternoon Club at 6:30 p.m.

The seed exchange event takes places from 9:30 a.m. until noon. For those who cannot attend, seeds can be dropped off at Mulligan Books, 208 S. State Street prior to the event.