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Seedy Saturday in Sawyerville

By Rachel GARBER

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Seedy Saturday was a veritable feast for a throng of more than 150 persons at the Sawyerville Auberge-Hotel and environs, last February 21st. From la bouffe to beekeeping to basket making. By way of seed-saving, gardening, natural products and tree-trimming. That's to name but a few of the topics and activities organized by the Sawyerville Community Garden.

Approaching the hotel, you meet a team of horses, big Belgians, hitched to a wagon. They're ready to take you to the library for story hour, or to the Community Garden for a fruit-tree trimming session.

Behind the hotel, happy children slide, skate and sled. Next door, the building that used to house the Caisse Desjardins is now dedicated to a bird-house building workshop with Christian Bédard, and an Abenaki basket-weaving workshop.

Thud! Thud! Thud! It's the sound of Antoine Lussier's sledge hammer against an Ash log, causing a strip of wood to separate and curl up. Master basket-maker Raymond Robert of Waterville takes the strips, trims them, smoothes them, shapes them, and then weaves them into Abenaki baskets, large and small. Robert says he made his first basket when he was six years old.

Inside the hotel, the main hall is full of happy people eating. Marie-Christine Parent, a young nutritionist, and her team, including teens from the Mijoton-ados group, have prepared a spread of soup, salads, roast pork, vegetables and desserts. All healthy, all natural, all really delicious.

Kiosks line the room. Michel Deslauriers of Les Jardins de Paromel of Bury displays Sea Buckthorn soaps and creams. He says he's ready, come springtime, to build their outdoor clay oven and start baking the traditional French flatbread, fougasse. Paintings adorn the walls, by area artists France d'Amours, Christa Kotiesen, Madeleine LaBonté, Denis Palmer, Linda Thibault and Danielle Tremblay. A poster announces a Tai chi course for beginners, in Sawyerville, in March. Children's books, in French.

A young man and his son peruse a poster displaying houses for sale in the area. Is Sawyerville coming alive again?

Seeds. From Terre Promise, from Brian Creelman's Food for Life, and more. And honey, from several producers. Not to mention the gardening tools, books, know-how and displays about a "new" kind of gardening, ecologic, organic, and heritage.
The bar, oops, the bistro, is crammed full of people taking in a succession of speakers. The topics are varied. Brian Creelman talks about creating a seed-saving and sharing club. And lo, the Sawyerville Community Garden is starting one. A first meeting is planned in the coming days. "He's such a force of knowledge in all this," said Jennifer McMullin.

McMullin is secretary of the Community Garden. "I found the turnout was a great validation for what we're doing," she said. "It was just an amazing feeling to be part of this momentous energy with all these good people who want to take better care of themselves and the earth."

Will they do it again? Seedy Saturday 2016 is planned for the third Saturday in February. But before that, look for the Garden's Annual General Meeting on April 7. Look for an Abenaki basket-making workshop this spring. A Garden Day in May or so. A mosaics workshop to decorate your garden, this summer. And a harvest festival the last Saturday in September.
Chantal Bolduc, the Garden's president, lists off their plans. She's dealing in ideas. "The Com-idée (committee) Sawyer will meet at the hotel every third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.," she said, "to receive, exchange and plan projects for the well-being of Sawyerville. It's a non-elected committee, and so non-official, that will promote activities for the well-being of each person and of Sawyerville."

For information, contact, or call 819-889-3196 (French) or 819-889-2480 (English).

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