Seed saving is rad and I mean that in the literal sense of radical, meaning something that relates to the fundamental nature of a thing. Seed saving is the act of collecting seeds, a plant’s reproductive material, directly from the plant as opposed to buying or procuring the seeds elsewhere. Last week I was collecting sweet pea seeds and I was reminded of how seed saving reconnects us to the fundamental nature of plants. It reminds me of the intelligent design of plants and the fact that plants can reproduce without human intervention.
My seed collection including seeds saved by hand, store bought seeds, and farm bought seeds.
Now, I’ll be frank, seed saving is no easy task. There are many steps to the process and oftentimes I find myself wondering if it is worth the the 4$ most packets of seeds cost. The process is different for fruits and for vegetables because one of the defining characteristics of fruits is that the seeds are collected from the fruit itself whereas for vegetables the seeds are collected from the plant from which the vegetable is harvested. For example, for apples the seeds must be taken from the core of the apple and left to dry whereas to harvest kale seeds, the plant from which the kale is cut must be left to flower and then from the flowers of the plant the seeds are collected. Depending on the priorities of the gardener, seed saving may or may not be cost-effective, however the power in seed saving is not necessarily saving money. The power of the act is experiencing the full life cycle of a plant and understand that it occurs independently of us even though we have inserted ourselves in the lifecycle of the plants we consume. This is yet another way we can understand where our food comes from.
Collecting seeds from the plant is an important reminder that like vegetables, seeds do not come from the store, but from the plant itself. The fundamental nature of plants is that they are completely independent. Photosynthesis allows them to produce their own food and sustain themselves from the beginning and although we may help them along the way sometimes by weeding around them or giving them a little extra water, seed-saving is a good reminder of the fundamental independence of plants.
Originally, I was going to write a long, detailed article about a new type of squash I encountered in the garden, however in the midst of telling a friend about this idea we got into a discussion about the technical differences between fruits and vegetables. The answer surprised me. Sure, we’ve all heard about how a tomato is technically a fruit, usually from some know-it-all kid in elementary school who posed the question in such a way to embarrass anyone who didn’t know the answer. What this kid in elementary school probably didn’t tell you was why a tomato is a fruit.
Fruits develop from the flower of any plant, whereas vegetables are any other part of the plant; this usually means the leaves, stems or root. Working in the garden certainly helps with understanding how each plant grows, but just from shopping in the super market one can discern what is a fruit and what is a vegetable. Anything with a stem is probably a fruit. For example: peppers, both bell and hot, are fruits because they develop out of the flower of the plant, same goes for tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, beans, and peas. Don’t worry; potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, and broccoli are still vegetables. Rhubarb, although generally paired with fruits like strawberries, is technically a vegetable because the useful part of the plant is the stems.
These may seem like trivial botanical facts for plant nerds like myself, but thinking about which vegetables are botanically fruits forces us to reexamine our relationship to food. It mends the gap between our thinking about food and plants that plagues those of us that get the majority of our food from grocery stores. When you ask yourself whether what you are eating is a fruit or a vegetable, you’re asking about the plant it stems from (pun intended). This gets us thinking about our food in new and exciting ways.
The kitchen of the Norquay Park Food Hub was bustling with activity on the evening of Tuesday, August 16th as families from the Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute worked together to make healthy and delicious snacks to share. Although the group whipped up several tasty treats including tuna wraps, no-bake energy balls, banana ice cream, and peanut butter-celery snacks, the homemade hummus really stole the show!
RCFSI is currently hosting the Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program. Participants came together in early July and expressed interest in picking up new recipes that would be good for their children’s lunch boxes. We used lettuce, apples, peppers, carrots, strawberries and garlic from the farmer’s market. The children were more than ready to peel, chop, and mix the ingredients together.
At the beginning of the workshop, families shared their experience in putting together healthy treats for their children after school. Some prefer celery and apples while others enjoy homemade sushi. As a result, it’s important for us to recognize that nutrition can be approached in so many ways by different families. We look forward to learning more about the wide variety of healthy snacks that can be made in different cultures!
– Cassandra Ly, Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute
Get your gardening and snack on!
We are so excited to Grow Norquay’s Garden with our Norquay Neighbourhood Food Hub community partners Collingwood Renfrew Neighbourhood House and the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project.
As part of the Vines Arts Festival on Friday, August 19th, join us from 6-8 pm – learn how to grow Good Food at home and help us build a garden. So get your gardening gloves on, and get hungry – we’ll show you how to start some seeds and share a salad!
Location: North West corner of Norquay Park, 5050 Wales St, Vancouver
We’re at it again, looking to grow and make something happen at Norquay Park!
Thanks to the Vancouver Park’s Board, we’re gearing up for our new Food Hub at Norquay Park.
We’ll be hosting gardening, workshops, cooking, and celebrating of Good Food through our new Fresh Roots Food Hub space, so get ready for a good time. And join our friends too. We’ll be working with Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Vancouver Fruit Tree Project to help connect and animate the space.
In the meantime, here’s to getting keys! Stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted on what’s happening here at Norquay Park!