Vancouver Island Health Authority has told a local Seedy Sunday event to go seedless this year.
While the Coombs Farmers Institute has an approved COVID-19 management plan for the March 28 event, organizers have been told by the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s environmental health officer that seeds aren’t allowed at Seedy Sunday.
While bedding plants are permitted as well as the compost being sold to raise funds for the local 4-H, the officer has told organizers that seeds are not food and are therefore prohibited.
“The province says that businesses that sell ‘seeds, fertilizers and pesticides’ are ‘essential,’ so we thought we were good to go,” says Janet Thony, president of the Coombs farmers Institute.
The province also allowed farmers markets to continue operating when the pandemic was declared, deeming them essential retail operations providing local food to communities, rather than events.
However, markets to purchase seeds for growing your own food are – to all appearances – not allowed, unless those seeds have germinated.
Other seedy events have been cancelled this year in view of the pandemic. Organizers of the Seedy Saturday event planned for Qualicum Beach in February cancelled the event due to “the orders of the Provincial Health Officer and for the safety of everyone.” Similarly, the Comox Valley Growers & Seed Savers announced, “Seedy Saturday 2021 in the Comox Valley is on hold until restrictions on events are lifted.”
Instead, organizers of the Comox Valley event directed seed enthusiasts to an online conference organized by FarmFolk/CityFolk and scheduled for February 19-21.
David Catzel, seed security program manager with FarmFolk/CityFolk, isn’t aware of health authorities telling other groups that have approved COVID-19 event plans that they couldn’t do seed swaps.
“In my opinion there wouldn’t be any food without seeds and for a home gardener to produce food, seeds absolutely are essential,” he said.
Vancouver Island Health Authority has not responded to a request for comment.