Friday, April 29, 2011

Love Letter To A Maine Seed And Plant Cooperative

There's one spring Friday that we count down to, beginning in January, when our catalog arrives in the mail, and that's the Fedco Tree Sale. We've held this tradition for ten years and as far as I'm concerned it's got to be one of the best resources for Maine gardeners and farmers. Fedco is a seed and plant cooperative, with a meticulously detailed catalog, chock-full of fascinating and even radical advice and information. We spend hours combing through and dog-earing pages, our eyes bigger than our .11 acre lot and we dream of growing green things during the barren winter. Every year we say we have no more room for trees and every year we bring home more trees. As this Fedco trip falls on or near Arbor Day and the Beltane sabbat, our Fedco trip has become part of our spiritual, Earth-honoring ritual as well.

young gardeners
at the Fedco Tree Sale: elderberry tree

Spending a couple of hours traipsing though a corrugated metal building in relative dimness, sloshing through puddles and sawdust, searching for the perfect tree or shrub, just beginning to leaf out, shouldn't be all that exciting and rewarding. Oh, but how it is! We inevitably meet friends and family who are there to do the same and we exchange news about how it grows at our gardens and farms. We chat with the knowledgeable Fedco staff and other farmers who join in the sale and we always return home a bit wiser. (On other floors or in a second building, we shuffle through seed packets and admire the Moose Tubers, or seed potatoes.)

Fedco seed sale
Moose Tubers, aka seed potatoes
at Fedco, Checkerberry Farm seedlings
smells free!

And once home, we unpack our carefully wrapped trees and their gorgeous root balls and work the rest of the weekend to dig holes and plant our precious loot. In ten springs, we've planted well-over thirty trees and shrubs. We will plant eight this weekend. We'll have to keep the seedlings we purchased from Checkerberry Farm by sunny windows a bit longer and in a few more weeks we'll be able to direct-sow the seeds. But the trees; the trees that are alive and already unfolding tender green leaves, those we plant now, and all thanks to Fedco and their amazing Tree Sale weekend.



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