Seed swap set for Saturday

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NORWAY – Gardeners have been invited to the Fare Share Commons on Saturday to exchange seeds and start a new network to help the fields flourish with an array of diverse vegetables.

“If we don’t rally for those things to be preserved, they’ll be gone and that’s it,” Scott Vlaun, one of the organizers, said Thursday.

The First Annual Seed Swap has been organized by Scott and Zizi Vlaun of Moose Pond Arts + Ecology, which is all at once the couple’s home, garden, educational center and graphic design business based in Otisfield and Norway.

The Saturday meeting will also include a talk by Scott Vlaun about the national seed-saving movement and what can be done to help preserve plant heterogeneity.

“It is something we have been wanting to do for a while, to get local gardeners together to talk about seeds,” Vlaun said. “The No. 1 reason is to raise awareness about dwindling varieties, the consolidation in the seed industry and the threat of genetic modification.”

The Vlauns are inviting people to bring seeds they’ve stored from their own gardens or farms. Seasoned growers know which of their lettuces, tomatoes or squashes do the best in this climate, and this wisdom and the kernels derived from the study of crops and careful preservation of certain species can be helpful to others.

“One person can save seeds for 20 people,” Vlaun said. “In 10 years it would be great if we had a very vital movement and had 50 people here sharing seeds.” Vlaun, who is also a photographer for the company Seeds of Change and Mother Earth News magazine, will present a slide show of the different seed cultivators he’s visited over the years.

He’ll also speak about a man in Industry, Will Bonsall, who owns Scatterseed Project, a farm devoted to genetic conservation. Bonsall is one of the primary growers for an organization in Iowa called Seed Savers Exchange, which shares heirloom seeds.

“What he does is he collects seeds from all over the world and grows them on the farm,” Vlaun explained. Others around the country are refining organic fruit and vegetables varieties to bring them back closer to their original state or to enhance their beauty or hardiness.

“A lot of modern varieties have been selected for how well they fit in a box, or how well they ship across the country,” Vlaun said.

In the future, Vlaun said he will likely also offer a workshop in seed preservation, teaching people how to grow and select seeds from their garden crops.

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