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Gardeners swap seeds

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WINTHROP — Gardeners gathered Saturday at Elliott’s Agway to swap seeds and talk about how to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers.

“I don’t know that much about gardening, but one of the reasons I put this together is to learn from gardeners in the area,” said coordinator Jeremiah L. Curtis, Winthrop. “It’s a good way to get to know my neighbors and learn a little bit about how not to do foolish things.”

Last year, at the first year of the seed exchange, Mr. Curtis heard an idea about splitting his garden in two and keeping chickens on one half one year and then switching them to the other side so that they scratch up weeds and fertilize the ground.

“I did that,” he said.

The exchange also gives gardeners a chance to pick up free seeds.

“People bring seeds and take seeds,” Mr. Curtis said. “It turns out most people take seeds, which is fine because I solicited donations.”

Packets of Early Red Chief tomato, Chantenay Red Core carrots, Wetheresfield red onion, China Rose Colored winter radish, Early Purple Milan turnip and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce lined tables while the conversation lingered on pH levels and planting dates. Oregano, lovage, leeks and celeriac were available. Black raspberry brambles were free for the digging.

“People are finally seeing the value of food,” said Lisa M. Wicks, a visitor from Hoosick.

This year’s seed swap is the kickoff event for a series of rural skills workshops of the Sustainable Living Project for beginning gardeners.

The workshops will follow a seasonal theme, from starting seedlings indoors to composting, said Krystal A. White, education and outreach coordinator. The fall might include workshops on canning.

The Sustainable Living Project’s third Local Living Festival will be in April 2013.

“We’re on an 18-month schedule now,” said Chelle S. Lindahl, one of the coordinators. “That way, we can catch the different seasons.”

Elizabeth C. Miller, Winthrop, said she came to the seed swap to be a part of her community and to see what kinds of seeds were brought. Mrs. Miller said she is concentrating this year on expanding her garden into small fruits, such as blueberries and currants.

“I think there’s a shortage of good organic fruit in the north country,” she said. “We like to avoid fruit that’s been shipped in.”

Marilynn G. Lane, Brasher Falls, left with seed packages of forget-me-nots, beets, cucumbers and marigolds. She grew a garden for the first time in many years last summer.

“I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d do it again,” she said.

Janet T. St. Pierre said she wished more people gardened, even if it were in containers.

“We love it. We like to garden more than we like to eat it,” she said of herself and her husband, Mark E. St. Pierre. “We’re big gardeners, but you don’t have to be big gardeners to get a lot out of it.”

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