A pair of gardeners decide what they’d like to grow in the coming season.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
While years past have featured presentations from gardeners and sugar cookies for those that ventured to the Walpole Library in search of seeds, this year, COVID-19 forced the annual Friends of Adams Farm Seed Swap to become a self-serve one, held on the picnic tables of Adams Farm. Occurring amidst a handful of days, the seed swap, which was held through Tuesday, March 16, featured plastic, seed-filled bins covered in rocks to keep them from blowing away, while gloves and Lysol wipes were nearby for those who felt feel nervous about touching potentially infected surfaces.
Liz McAfee explained that this season of seeds features “about a dozen or so herbs, a little over thirty vegetables, and I would say probably around twenty flower varieties.” But from the talk of the crowd that had gathered around the plastic bins behind the barn on Thursday afternoon, there was only one seed that demanded their immediate attention: the seeds of the root beer plant. Many people wondered exactly what plant that would grow from them, but while sasafrass was the most popular guess, apparently, it’s actually the Mexican pepperleaf, also known as the the hoja santa. This plant isn’t involved in the production of root beer, but instead yields similar oils to those of sassafras, thus giving the plant a unique, root beer-like smell.
Whether someone grows the unique soda plant in the Adams Farm garden or not remains unclear, but if anyone does opt to, they will be happy to know the garden is getting a new fence to better keep away critters. While there were a few people tilling the garden over the weekend, anyone doing any planting should know there will be workers in the area putting up the new fence, so they should understand plots might be stepped on by fence installers, and plan accordingly.
While it is a seed swap, first-time gardeners or others who didn’t have any seeds to swap were still welcomed to the farm to pick some up - and perhaps opt to donate a bit of money instead.
“If you can bring seeds to swap, that’s great. Some people will do that at the end of the growing season instead of today. I had one person donate seeds, and then some other folks have donated money in support of the seeds for the next go-round.”
Because this was McAfee’s first year running the seed swap, she couldn’t say whether the COVID-19 lockdowns and their stronger emphasis on outdoor activities had greatly increased the number of people looking to grow a garden - but she did note that the Adam Farm Community Garden had recently expanded to add more plots.
The seed swap on a drab, windy March weekend certainly felt a long way from the lush gardens that await the area in a couple months. But as is the case with most gardens, everything starts with a seed.
More info about Adams Farm, located just a stone's throw from the Westwood border in Walpole, can be found at www.adams-farm.com.