Celebrating Seed Solidarity

I’m the optimistic type in most cases, but I have to admit that good news is, shall we say, hard to come by. However, getting my hands in the dirt and gardening gives me comfort and meeting other people who share this passion stimulates me!

On February 4 and 5, the Montreal Seed Festival was finally back, in person! I say finally, because the last two editions took place…virtually.  

Seed Kiosk
Photo Francis Cardinal.

For those of you who haven’t been following the news over the last few years, we have been trying to get through a worldwide pandemic and The-Disease-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has forced us to take some health precautions. It was finally the opportunity to meet again in real life. 

At the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Cultiver Montreal, in partnership with Space For Life, invited us to meet some twenty Quebec seed growers and to celebrate under the theme: Seeds of solidarity. 

Seeds of Solidarity

For the occasion, various round tables “honored the links of solidarity that are being forged between the actors of the living world” were organized. One of these was entitled: Joining forces to grow more seeds in Quebec. Even novice gardeners were invited to a workshop to make seed bombs to spread the beauty of flowers. 

I have to admit, the concept of solidarity can be used in all sorts of ways, so here is the definition:


  1. A relationship existing between people who, having a community of interests, are linked to each other (…)

Well, that’s exactly what happened at this great festival. People from all over met, networked and got to know… other people who share their interests. All of them had in common this project to grow something. 

Obviously, it was the perfect opportunity to buy unique, local and quality seeds with the added bonus of meeting, in person, those who produce them. 

Mathieu and Francis at the Montreal Seed Festival
Mathieu Hodgson and Francis Cardinal. Photo: Francis Cardinal.

You Will Never Guess Who I Met…

And yes! I had the chance to meet Mathieu Hodgson, editor of Laidback Gardener, at my booth. 

Mathieu told me that he came on a mission to meet people and make allies for his projects. Let’s face it, taking over the reins of the Laidback Gardener is no small task!

He reminded me of the definition of solidarity that I put above. 

To contribute to his mission, I told him that if he was going to start somewhere, he should talk to the Cultiver Montréal gang.

That’s when I lost track of him…

Cultiver Montréal's booth
Cultiver Montréal is a multi-sectoral network, bringing together, accompanying, supporting and promoting all forms of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Greater Montreal, in consultation with its members.

What Brought Me to This Seed Festival?

That’s a good question, and it would have been easy to call me a fraud, since I was running the only booth that had nothing to sell. In fact, I was promoting the My Space for Life Garden program that the Laidback Gardener wrote about in May 2022. 

To make a long story short, our mission is to encourage people to make more room for biodiversity in their gardens. A certification that recognizes the efforts of those who manage their green spaces is awarded at the end of the season. 

In fact, the teachings of the Laidback Gardener often guide me in my work; after all, to be laidback… is often to let nature do some of the work. After all, pollinators fertilize flowers while predatory insects control pests. A laidback gardener is well advised to provide a green space that promotes this biodiversity to avoid having to intervene ( themselves ) to correct the slightest situation. 

What if part of the solution to living well together, in the city, was to let nature take over?

Illustration of a futuristic and vegetal city
Illustration by Maxime Bigras: The city of the future? The smart city? 

A search and find to dream the city of the future: a game to think about

In order to compete with the other booths present at the event, I set up a concept that would arouse interest! Young and old were invited to answer various questions in order to break the ice during a utopian search and find. 

Want to try?

To play, try to answer these questions by looking at the illustration that adorned my booth: 

What city are we in?

Where is the nature lover hiding?

Where is the maple leaf?

If you were a frog, where would you live?

In what year does the illustration take place?

How many cars are in the picture?

Is it utopian to think that our cities will look like this one day? Maybe, but I can’t help but believe that the city of the future (the Smart City) will have to make room for much more vegetation and, by extension, all the biodiversity that will benefit from it. This is why it is important to celebrate the importance of seeds. After all, everything starts with a seed.

Francis Cardinal is a biologist who graduated from McGill University and then from HEC Montréal. Since 2013, he has been a member of the education team at the Montreal Biodome, aprt of Espace pour la vie, where he is responsible for the My Jardin program and the science popularization program. Very sensitive to the environment, Francis uses every means possible to arouse curiosity and bring us closer to nature. Humour and emotion often allow him to make attractive what would otherwise be unnoticed or banal. He considers himself a laidback gardener and has developed a sense of self-criticism in order to accept imperfection and to act only when it is essential.

1 comment on “Celebrating Seed Solidarity

  1. Christine Lemieux

    This is so great! I think a lot of gardeners are choosing diversity and critters and the environment over “perfect” gardens. Thank you for the dream of a future city.

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