It may be the depths of the Utah winter, but as we approach the end of January spring is closer than it seems. For gardeners and growers, its the perfect time to be pouring over seed catalogs, inspired and tempted by pretty pictures and delectable descriptions of page after page of edible plants and flowers. Beyond the catalogs, another great way to find specialty and locally adapted varieties for your garden is to attend the 2013 People’s Market Seed Swap. The swap will be held this Saturday, January 26th at the Sorenson Unity Center in Salt Lake City, 1383 S. 900 W. from 2 – 6 pm. This swap has become a local tradition, with gardeners and local growers offering a wide array of seeds and plant materials. You don’t have to bring seeds to the swap yourself to participate and obtain seeds. You can also come learn about gardening, seed saving, food preservation, self-sufficiency, dye plants, and more from a variety of local organizations and individuals.
At the swap, Slow Food Utah will once again offer select Ark of Taste heirloom vegetable seed varieties in sampler packages for any interested gardeners to take home and try growing out. “The US Ark of Taste is a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure they remain in production and on our plates.” (Slow Food USA Ark of Taste). Foods on the Ark of Taste are nominated by members and must be outstanding in terms of taste or culinary tradition, culturally linked to a region, at risk or in limited production, and sustainably produced. This program helps preserve agricultural biodiversity and traditional food sources in the face of ongoing erosion by industrial agriculture. Backyard growers can serve as crucial stewards of our food heritage.
We have selected several Ark varieties that do well in our climate for the swap. These include Red Fig and Chalk’s Early Jewel tomatoes, Sheepnose Pimento and Wenk’s Yellow Hot peppers, Tennis Ball lettuce and Sibley squash. Once again this year, all seeds we’ll be giving away come from Seed Savers Exchange, and most are certified organic. All varieties are open-pollinated heirlooms, so please consider not only growing them but saving the seeds yourself to replant next season. Maybe you’ll even save enough to offer back to others at future seed swaps.