Many people collect seeds because it’s cool to grow interesting fruits and vegetables in your garden, while others consider the practice an active front against the corporatization of our food supply. Whatever your motivation, this Sunday’s Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap, hosted for the eighth annual time by the S.B. Permaculture Network, is the best place to trade seeds (or get some for free), learn from farmers, and connect with the broader seed-minded community, including the likes of Larry Kandarian and Emma Cantu.
In the seed business for 40 years, Kandarian’s farm in Los Osos is a hotbed of herbs, spices, peas, beans, and gourmet pollens, which he’s built his organic business upon. But for the past six years, he’s focused on ancient grains like farro and einkorn in hopes of providing alternatives to those suffering from celiac disease and other gluten intolerances. “I’m looking for ancient grains rather than the stuff from Archer Daniels Midland and General Mills and shit like that,” said Kandarian, whose friend’s son almost died from celiac. “I want to get away from that system. We’re trying to find something better.” He’ll be giving away Ethiopian blue tinge farro, black barley, and Genovese basil on Sunday.
Cantu, meanwhile, is a resident of downtown Santa Barbara, where she’s renowned for growing some of the hottest chiles this side of Mercury. On Sunday, she’ll be giving away ghost pepper, chocolate habanero, red savina, Thai, pequin, and numerous other seed varieties, including milkweed, which attracts monarch butterflies. “People need to grow their own veggies and stop depending on others for their food sources,” said Cantu. “We grow our own, we save the seeds from the harvest for next year, we know what we put into the soil, and they are always hot!”
The S.B. Permaculture Network’s 8th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap is Sunday, January 31, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at the S.B. Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery. See sbpermaculture.org.