Calendula Seeds
September 22, 2007



The cold fall wind buffets our exposed skin as we wait for the UBC market to open. I get up from my plastic chair to get the kinks out of my stiff legs and clap my hands together to warm them up. A "v" of Canada geese passes over our heads. There's a wide variety of produce available today and I load up on broccoli, haricots vert, garlic, salad greens, flower petals and kale. The rich colors of the fall flowers are irresistible, so I put together my own bouquet of deep burgundy sweet peas and pincushion flowers, as well as golden and brown rudbeckias, sunflowers and a few stalks of bearded rye.



Today the Mayan gardeners have some fantastic pink-red beans for sale. The vendor says they are a South American version of kidney beans. I buy two pounds, which she weighs using a handmade scale made of rope and two bowls. I pick up some of Ron's bannock with blackberry and peach compote, someoatmeal chocolate chip cookies and pop my groceries into the farm center so I can wander around the farm. On the way to the center, I take note of the new signs at the medicinal gardens, which identify the plants and outline their medicinal properties.



I ask the farm manager's permission to gather come calendula seeds. "Yep, go ahead," he says dryly, "I think there's enough for you." I know from last year's experience that calendula seeds are plentiful here. They are very satisfying to gather, with individual seeds shaped like cat's toe-nails. The calendula are next to a row of cornflowers which are also going to seed, so I gather a few dried heads from those plants as well. Next, I wander around the site and snap a few pods off a single rogue lupin I find. I also gather some tiny seeds from a mystery plant near the UBC market garden sign that the bees are crazy about. This morning it seems as if every blossom on the farm has a bee in it. The crunch to save pollen and nectar before the frost is on. I even see one bee knock another right out of a dandelion flower--roller-derby style.

These seeds will be used for the next Madame Dolittle project--creating seed balls for vacant lots. The seeds are rolled into compost, which is covered with a layer of clay. These balls are left to dry; then the children will toss them into vacant lots. The spring rains will make the plants germinate. If you have any extra drought-tolerant bee-friendly flower seeds that would be good for releasing into neglected city spaces, please let me know.