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Seed exchange grows plants, vegetables and hope

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneLocal gardeners at the Garden Seed Exchange in the Talent Library Saturday morning.
Event in Talent organized by one of the oldest gardening clubs in Oregon serves array of community needs

Small containers of seeds were thoughtfully displayed on long tables by members of the Talent Garden Club for its Garden Seed Exchange on Saturday.

The Talent Library meeting room bustled with activity on a sunny morning also suitable for gardening.

People came with shoe boxes and shopping bags containing seeds and cuttings. And some gardeners not only brought seeds, they carried in boxes of starter plants.

From very young Bells of Ireland plants to Red Devil’s Tongue pepper seeds, an array of plants and seeds for growing vegetables and flowers were made available.

Organizers of the event also arranged for a cellist to perform classical music, and they offered some snacks for people to enjoy.

“Seeds cost a lot of money,” said Gerlinde Smith, the club’s treasurer. “It’s a great way to perhaps try a new vegetable or a new flower.”

Club members also hope residents affected by the Almeda fire can use some of these seeds to re-establish their gardens lost during the conflagration, Smith said.

It’s also an opportunity for people to talk about gardening.

A good number of varieties need to be propagated soon, which is why the exchange happens at this time of year.

This was the first visit to the seed exchange for Kevin and Trina Stout, both of Ashland. They found out about it on Facebook. The siblings are both avid gardeners and come from a gardening family.

Artichokes and huckleberries were among seeds they were interested in finding, said Trina Stout.

“We wanted to see what other people have,” Kevin Stout said.

Both mentioned the variety of resources available to area gardeners, including the OSU-Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point.

“There are so many good resources in the community,” he said.

However, both noted that even with the quantity of good, useful information about gardening, it can be a process of trial and error.

“A lot of error,” Trina Stout commented with a smile on her face.

Someone with a box of starter plants walked past and caught their attention.

“We want to see that,” Kevin Stout said.

He was willing to be a little behind on his errands to do it.

Mike and Louisa Bishop of Eagle Point have been growing vegetables for more than a decade.

Each year, “we always try to do a little bit more,” Mike Bishop said.

With prices for vegetables at the store having gone up because of the pandemic, “that’s all the more reason to grow your own,” Bishop also said.

The Talent Garden Club has been in existence since 1912, making it one of the oldest groups of its kind in Oregon, Smith noted.

The club has an annual plant sale fundraiser in May. Proceeds are used for a scholarship program for high school seniors who want to study horticulture, forestry, botany or environmental sciences.

“Some young people see that the rat race might not be good for them,” Smith said. “Farming might be for them. That’s a very refreshing thing.”

ACCESS Building Community and Rogue Valley Farm to School are other organizations that benefit from the group’s efforts.

Club members have also worked to improve conditions along Bear Creek and the Upper Talent pond since the 2020 Almeda fire.

For information about the group, visit talentgardenclub.com.