An afternoon of S(p)eed Dating at POWer Plants
Start with some seedling propagation, then add some good food, kombucha making and… matchmaking. Welcome to the brave (and maybe a little shy, initially) new world of seed dating. After the success of its inaugural event earlier in the year, the seed dating roadshow headed out west past the Maribyrnong for an afternoon of garden propagation and kitchen chemistry.
Staying true to permaculture’s ‘people care’ principle, Permablitz organisers came up with the novel idea to cater for their single friends in the permaculture community. And people came from far and wide for the event – some from as far as Gippsland!
Firstly, the event wouldn’t have been the success that it was without the warm hospitality of our hosts. POWer Plants community nursery is the labour of love of Rayna and Karl. They have created an almost idyllic community hub that encourages an exchange of ideas and knowledge (and sale of inexpensive quality organic seedlings).
Rayna and Karl’s little cupids (ie daughters) took it upon themselves to conduct the initial meet and greet by drawing little hearts on our traditional name tags. It was too cute.. they also by far were the busiest on the day: ensuring that everyone had a cuppa and was well-hydrated.
The afternoon started as any blitz would have (minus the stretching): with introductions among the group of guys and girls. Facilitators split everyone up into different activity areas and the fun began. Propagators donned gloves and carefully potted a variety of seedlings. Meanwhile, our host Karl showed aspiring kombucha makers how to continuously brew the delectable and slightly tart beverage. And for those interested in aquaponics, there was a chance to tinker and talk while installing irrigation to the system. Participants swapped activities freely over the two hours and, with the exception of some loose gender balancing, it was pretty much like any other blitz, involving lots of skill sharing and learning. And mingling. Lots of mingling.
Some tough decisions were made throughout the day: is there such a thing as too much passionfruit? Is daily ginger kombucha the secret for a healthy marriage?.. The kombucha brewing success was celebrated with a sneaky home brewed pear schnapps “tasting”.
“Is this like speed dating?”, you might be asking, eyebrows raised. Far from it! Seed dating has some distinct and advantageous differences over its speedier and occasionally seedier (awful pun intended) cousin. Firstly, you get to feel comfortable from the outset. Seriously, when was the last time you got to rock up to a dating event in trackies and flannel? Or wearing gardening gloves?
Second, there are so many nice permies out there. Is it the healthy food and fresh air? Or could it be their home / neighbourhood / world-changing ideals? Whatever the reason, permaculture and blitzes tend to bring out the best in people and this event was certainly no exception. Permies also tend to be active, curious, giving, helpful and good with their hands. Enough said. In an era of physical objectification, it’s nice to be appreciated for these finer qualities. And there aren’t many settings in which soil (not dirt!) on your face or under your nails can actually make you look really good.
Serving a worthy cause beyond yourself brings a shine to any event. In this case, our propagation was helping out POWer Plants Nursery, whose weekly activities have helped green and feed many Melbourne homes. Among their many aims, POWer Plant’s organisers are committed to ensuring that seeds are saved and passed on the community at minimal cost.** If causes were always this good, you might not ever want to give up dating!
Lastly, nobody comes away from a seed-dating event empty-handed. Some attendees may have gone away with a phone number or two in hand, but you have to love any event that also lets you leave with an armful of garden goodies. Thanks to the amazing generosity of hosts Rayna and Karl, everyone was able to take home as many seedlings as they could carry. Rayna’s seed and cutting collecting meant that there was an ample selection to choose from. And if you didn’t want to leave with just one or two new potted friends under your arm, you could have also left with several thousand beneficial bacterial buddies housed in a new kombucha scoby taken from Karl’s brewing batch.
The afternoon passed so quickly that it wasn’t until the final minutes when contact details were exchanged. Many thanks to the hosts and their helpful children for putting on such a successful event, during which everyone learned a lot and did so in good company.
** Permaculture Out West’s POWer Plants community nursery runs a seed propagation workshop two Sunday afternoons each month, followed by a shared drink and food.
If you’re interested in attending a similar event in the future or have a seed-dating story to tell, let the Permablitz team know here!
Documented by Dan Ong & Eka M!