Thursday, September 01, 2011
Salt Spring Seeds Garden Tour
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Dan Jason, seed saving hero and proprietor of Salt Spring Seeds on Salt Spring Island. His farm, a seed sanctuary dedicated to preserving the diversity of our heritage seed resources, looks out over an open valley.
I started off bedazzled by the plump cabbages, but quickly realized that this garden was all about the seeds. Most gardeners harvest before their produce reaches this stage and never get to witness the miraculous process of growth through the whole cycle.
I had no idea that chickpea plants look like this. Their dainty pods yield only one or two peas - next time I blithely measure out a cup of dried chickpeas I will be able to picture how long a row of plants was required for my meal.
Each row is marked with a handwritten sign. Have you ever heard of this type of marigold?
The farm is deceptively small - Dan does have a few other people growing for him but when I consider the rich diversity of plant genetics this land supports my perspective changes from "It's smaller than I thought it would be." to "Wow, it's massive."
Dan graciously provides chairs for us to contemplate the expansive world a single seed can contain.
I think this is barley. (Ooops, correction, it's oats!) Dan has demonstrated that many varieties of grains can be successfully grown in the Pacific Northwest.
Quinoa, in particular, would make a spectacular addition to the home garden. The colours are gorgeous, and the seeds are abundant.
Of course, you won't have seed without pollinators. Honeybees work a leek blossom...
... and a bumblebee is busy on an echinacea flowwer.
Dan grows dahlias as cut flowers for his table, but the veggies, heavily mulched with straw, are never far away.
The meditation bench is perched on the slope, looking out to the valley. Dan told me that a Tibetan rinpoche who recently visited sat on the bench and blessed the garden.
It is indeed a place that resonates with peace, beauty and grace.