ACES Seed Exchange at the Harrison Mills Community Hall is bringing in expert sources to talk drought-resistant gardening. (Unsplash)

ACES Seed Exchange at the Harrison Mills Community Hall is bringing in expert sources to talk drought-resistant gardening. (Unsplash)

ACES grows the love of gardening with annual seed exchange

The event will be returning to Harrison Mills Community Hall on March 1

The snow was piling up outside, but Cynthia Berges and Elizabeth Pellizzari were preparing for spring.

Sitting in Berges’ living room, the pair were organizing seeds donated from Delta’s West Coast Seeds into small packs. The seeds are mostly vegetable seeds, often heirloom varieties and organic, although some are for different flowers.

“We got a good assortment and a lot of different seeds for people,” Berges said over the phone.

The seeds aren’t for their personal use. They’re donated to ACES for its annual seed exchange, taking place this year at Harrison Mills Community Hall on March 1.

ACES, which stands for Actively Creating an Exceptional Society, first started in 2009 as a way for Pellizzari and Berges to protest the proposed development of the wetland near Lake Errock.

“We started us protesting about (developing) wetlands, and protesting gravel and protesting everything,” Berges explained. “And then we figured, instead of protesting everything, let’s do something that we like and believe in, and share things that way.”

One of the things the society decided to do was create a seed exchange as an opportunity for locals to become more knowledgeable about gardening and sustainability.

RELATED: ACES exchange plants seeds of change

The first seed exchange was held five or six years ago — Berges can’t remember exactly when — and has grown over the years to see about 50 people come out to the event.

As it has in years past, the seed exchange will run in partnership with the Deroche Farmers’ Market, and feature a few vendor tables during the event. There will also be a keynote speech by horticulturalist Mary-Anne Gehman on xeriscaping — a type of gardening that conserves water and uses drought-tolerant plants.

“We’ve had very good speakers on various topics, and I think that is also a draw,” Pellezzari said. “People want to hear what these experts have to inform us or give us facts about.”

The speaker usually talks for about half an hour or 45 minutes, Berges said, and once they’re done, the seed exchange officially opens.

“We have all these little packages of seeds, so they’re basically seed giveaways,” Berges explained. “But … each year it seems more and more people are bringing their own seeds.

“That’s the idea that people will grow and then share their seeds.”

Of course, she added, people who are just starting out and don’t have seeds to share are more than welcome as well, thanks to the surplus of donated seeds.

RELATED: Beeing in the moment is everything in the art of keeping bees

“We encourage everyone to start a garden, even if it’s in a pot,” Pellezzari said. “I find that people who start with a small garden or a potted garden start falling in love with that they grow, and they realize how much more nourishing and tasty” the vegetables are.

“I think that’s what we’re trying to promote,” she added. “We’re trying to promote that you … can be more sustainable by growing a lot of your own vegetables.”

“Just a simpler lifestyle,” Berges agreed. “Connected to nature and relying on yourself.”

The seed exchange will take place at Harrison Mills Community Hall (1995 School Rd) on Friday, March 1. The event begins at 6:30 p.m., and doors open at 6 p.m.

Admission is free, although there will be a donation jar near the door.

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