Matthew Forbes wants to demystify gardening for you. The ultimate goal with his newest venture, Saturday Seed Co., is to help people grow their own food and feed themselves.
Aspirational indeed, and loaded with both simple and complex challenges. How he got there was a trial unto itself.
Like so many of us, navigating COVID has been fraught with uncertainty and financial demands. It’s been quite a journey for Forbes. He had to shutter his beloved Matthew’s Barber Shop because, in a nutshell, ”With a pandemic raging, you can’t cut hair.”
So he thought about selling seeds. As a longtime home gardener, he predicted that everyone was really going to love gardening now too — especially now. It seemed a straightforward enough resolution at the time.
In April of 2020 he created Saturday Seed Co. The man is really fond of alliteration. The name for his company is a nod to Seedy Saturdays and the day of the week that he anticipated those with a new interest in growing would be heading into the garden, just like himself. He set about ordering as many books as possible on seeds from The Bookshelf, and sat down to study. He does admit that he’s at the beginning stages of understanding the complexities of cultivation.
Saturday Seed Co. is a very small company these early days. It’s just Forbes, with an occasional hand from his family who join him at the dining room table to help fill his beautiful little packets designed by musician and designer Minnie Hart. “Seeds are the other side of my personality from haircutting. I work from my introverted, quiet gardening side now.”
He’ll have you know that Saturday Seed Co. is not like the other seed companies that have 12 different kinds of kale, though. These packets contain highly curated vegetables and flowers, purchased as locally as possible. But there are big plans on the horizon.
He’s aiming to build an entire inventory of open-pollinated seeds so that whoever grows his can eventually save their own. He also wants to educate about the difference between these kind of seeds and hybrids or cross-pollination.
Deeply rooted heritage can be complicated, but Forbes wants to contribute to the potential of food autonomy catching on. He’s steadily working toward reaching a place where he can give seeds away, and is keen to collaborate with organizations that help feed people; yet another way he can keep on as the true community-first guy he’s fondly known to be.
This focus on food and seed sovereignty is a real passion for him. The Lexicon of Food defines seed sovereignty as, “The right to breed and exchange diverse open source seeds which can be saved and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants.”
These days Forbes works and mucks about in his garden as much as he can. At peak growing season last year, he regularly turned down lunch choosing instead to eat a feast of beans, carrots, spinach and beets pulled straight from the ground. He reminds us simply, “It’s the freshest food you’ll ever eat, and it sure tastes good”.
Thus far Saturday Seed Co. has a website for seed ordering — saturdayseedco.ca — as well as social media sites where you’ll find him starring in comical little video reels which highlight his signature quick-wit. You’ll also see his product for sale occasional Saturdays on Wilson Street at The Common.