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Are there seeds of renewal to follow the death of gardening?

Regular visitors to Seedy Saturday were thrilled to see the eighth annual event re-potted into the gymnasium at PECI.

“We’ve come a long way from that church basement eight years ago,” said Tamara Segal, one of the event’s organizers. “People are appreciating the space to move around and see everything.”

Hundreds arrived to swap seeds, share information, learn and get a jump on spring garden plans discussing possibilities with seed vendors, garden clubs and growers.

A day of free presentations was launched by County resident Carson Arthur, HGTV host and outdoor expert with City TV’s Cityline.

He explained the disappearance of gardening shows from television as trends went from the baby boomers’ fantastic gardens to a need for “low maintenance” gardens to “landscape plantings” of the same plants, to “container gardening” and “outdoor living opportunities”.

“I am part of the reason why gardening is dead in Canada,” said Arthur, noting his first HGTV show Room To Grow, 15 years ago, was designed to target the trends, and that continued with his ‘Critical Listing’, ‘Green Force’ and ‘Home to Win’ programs.

“HGTV was saying ‘why do we need a gardening show when people are not gardening?'”

The outdoor rooms industry bloomed as homeowners sought spaces that resembled their winter vacation get-aways with hot tubs pool side and opulent stone walls, Arthur said, noting 70 per cent of all landscaped surfaces installed today are made of pavement, asphalt or concrete.

The industry blossomed again with the outdoor kitchen fad that can include such additions as a $25,000 barbecue for those who need to sear a steak in seven seconds.

“Decks and patios are getting bigger and bigger and a new wood deck in the back yard now has a better return on investment than any kitchen or bathroom renovation,” he said.

“The scary thing is that plants became contained and people loved their planters more than the plants. Years later, they still didn’t care, saying ‘the stone work is gorgeous.'”

Generation X of 40-50-year-olds walked away from gardening, he said. “They can’t afford the Muskokas, for example, but make use of every square inch on their property, driving the housing prices up higher and higher.

This family spent $1.2 million to put in a $200,000 yard beside their Toronto home. They do not have to commute to a cottage, and every morning and evening they admire the beauty from their home’s windows.

Thankfully, he noted the baby boomers who are age 60 plus still like to garden and are willing to share their knowledge with the new hope for gardens – the millennial generation.

“They move out of the city. They work from home, telecommute, and are looking at three things in their homes – that they are priced appropriately, have space to grow, and have curb appeal,” said Arthur, noting fine curb appeal answers their appetite for telling their friends about their new home by way of taking a “selfie” photo.

“The good news is that whether they are using a $5 app on their phone or a sheet from a $1 pad of graph paper for planning, they want to grow vegetables. And they’re here today swapping seeds with the boomers.”

Arthur said they are our hope for gardening, but don’t count on an influx of gardening shows to return to television.

“Millennials don’t watch television. There’s 10 million blog sites out there on the subject, but not one gardening show on TV,” Arthur laughs. “But millennials are our key to gardening making a comeback.”

“We need to strive for back yards with balance,” said Arthur. “We need living spaces surrounded by trees, plants and birds. Spaces that function, but still look good. Every decision we make impacts the world around us.”

Visitors leave and take from the free seed swap table

Tamara Segal, registered herbalist with Hawthorn Herbals, poured samples of wild coffee she created from freshly roasted wild roots and organic grains, blended with raw cacao nibs. The grains can be brewed several times, making multiple cups of wild coffee. She also offered tastes of her wild herb salt, a mineral rich blend of wild edible greens with hand-harvested, sun-dried sea salt.

Karyn Wright, of Terra Edibles Heirloom Seeds, said that despite last year’s drought, they had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes due to a good well.

Courtney Royle and Gabrielle Kaduc-Stojsic, with friend Thegan Mabrey (not shown) offered pieces of home-baked pie for visitors to the speakers seminars.


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