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Saturday Seed Swap

Pat Stewart Realtors sows feelings of community with drive-through exchange

Dan Miller is internationally known for his work in aquaculture, which is the practice of raising fish for food or sport.

On Saturday, though, he had more of a dry-land concern on his mind, as he steered his car into the parking lot of Pat Stewart Realtors in Suncrest.

“OK, I’m here for some of those world-famous West Virginia tomato seeds,” he said, with a grin that cut through the hazy, drizzly day.

The “West Virginia 63,” he meant.

As in, the hearty, blight-proof tomato introduced by WVU plant pathologist Mannon Gallegly on the occasion of the Mountain State’s 100th birthday in 1963.

Ever since, seeds from the ’63 have been coveted by everyone from serious farmers — to weekend gardeners who like transforming a quadrant of their backyards into something bountiful.

Miller is in the latter category.

“I don’t have a lot of space to work with, but I’m anxious to give these a try,” he said.

“This is a nice project. I like it.” 

Pat Stewart, the namesake of the real estate office that put down roots 47 years ago, smiled and nodded.

“You’re quite welcome, Dan,” she said.

Concerns over the pandemic and presidential politics are sowing the seeds of angst to the four corners right now, the businesswoman said.

That’s why she introduced something Saturday that she said would be fun, gentle and calming — and all at once.

Well, check that. It wasn’t really an introduction.

In fact, it’s as old as agriculture itself.

The seed swap.

Seeds for the famous West Virginia ’63 heirloom tomato variety were up for grabs at Saturday’s Seed Swap at Pat Stewart Realtors.

Seeds from your vegetable garden or flower garden, in exchange for likewise offerings from your brothers and sisters in the guild of the Green Thumb.

“Something you can forward to this spring,” she said.

Along with the West Virginia ’63, there were other seeds for the senses, just waiting for your garden.

Cayenne peppers, to go with the shasta daisies.

Black beans and paw paws, also.

Don’t forget the forget-me-nots.

WVU freshman Abigail Adamiak hadn’t forgotten: She has a memorable display in mind for someone special back in Pittsburgh.

“I’m gonna plant these for my mom,” she said, regarding the packet of wildflower-mixed seeds in her palm.

“I couldn’t go home for her birthday.” 

If you couldn’t make it to the seed-swap, not to worry, said Jeff Stewart, Pat’s son and a veteran broker in his own right.

Remaining seed packets will be up for the taking just by stopping in at Pat Stewart Realtors from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said. The office is located at 2917 University Ave.

Abigail Adamiak looks for seeds at the Seed Swap on Saturday.

Pat Stewart’s offshoot isn’t 100% versed on vegetable gardens and flowers, he admits.

 Jeff Stewart, however, can tell you all about pumpkins — the autumnal gourd that has long-carved Halloween and Thanksgiving for its own.

Well, he can tell you all about pumpkin-logistics, at least.

For 30 years, or better, he’s made it a point, in the fall, to deliver pumpkins to the new homeowners he’s helped that get that way.

As he has been known to sell lots of houses, that means lots of deliveries, and pumpkins by the trunk-full.

Pumpkins by the trunk-full make for a heavy load, he said.

He isn’t talking seasonal existentialism.

“Shock absorbers and suspension. That’s when you find out what your car can do.” 

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