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Andy Atkinson/Mail TribuneLocal gardeners at the Garden Seed Exchange in the Talent Library on Saturday morning.

Talent event hosted by one of Oregon’s oldest garden clubs meets a range of community needs

Small seed containers were aptly displayed on long tables by members of the Talent Garden Club for its Garden Seed Exchange on Saturday.

The Talent Library meeting room was buzzing with activity on a sunny morning that was also good for gardening.

People came with shoeboxes and shopping bags containing seeds and cuttings. And some gardeners didn’t just bring seeds, they carried them around in starter plant boxes.

From very young Bells of Ireland plants to Red Devil’s Tongue pepper seeds, a range of plants and seeds for growing vegetables and flowers has been made available.

The event organizers also arranged for a cellist to perform classical music and they provided snacks for people to enjoy.

“Seeds are very expensive,” said Gerlinde Smith, the club’s treasurer. “It’s a great way to try maybe a new vegetable or a new flower.”

Club members also hope that residents affected by the Almeda fire can use some of these seeds to restore their gardens lost in the fire, Smith said.

It’s also an opportunity for people to talk about gardening.

A good number of varieties need to be propagated quickly, which is why the exchange takes place at this time of the year.

This was the first visit to the seed exchange for Kevin and Trina Stout, both of Ashland. They learned about it on Facebook. The siblings are both avid gardeners and come from a family of gardeners.

Artichokes and blueberries were among the seeds they wanted to find, said Trina Stout.

“We wanted to see what other people had,” Kevin Stout said.

Both mentioned the variety of resources available to area gardeners, including the OSU-Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point.

“There are so many good resources in the community,” he said.

However, the two noted that even with the amount of good and useful gardening information, it can be a trial and error process.

“Lots of mistakes,” Trina Stout commented with a smile on her face.

Someone with a box of starter plants passed by and caught their eye.

“We want to see that,” Kevin Stout said.

He was willing to be a little late in his errands to do so.

Mike and Louisa Bishop of Eagle Point have been growing vegetables for over a decade.

Each year, “we always try to do a little more,” said Mike Bishop.

With vegetable prices at the store having increased due to the pandemic, “that’s all the more reason to grow your own,” Bishop also said.

The Talent Garden Club has been around since 1912, making it one of the oldest such groups in Oregon, Smith noted.

The club holds an annual fundraiser for the plant sale in May. Proceeds are used for a scholarship program for high school graduates who want to study horticulture, forestry, botany or environmental science.

“Some young people see that the frantic race might not be good for them,” Smith said. “Agriculture could be for them. It’s something very refreshing.

ACCESS Building Community and Rogue Valley Farm to School are other organizations benefiting from the group’s efforts.

Club members have also worked to improve conditions along Bear Creek and Upper Talent Pond since the Almeda fire in 2020.

For more information about the group, visit


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