Have you ever wanted to know how to organize a seed swap? I love trading seeds with friends but why not take it one step further and organize one for your community? We often can’t use up all the seeds we buy and many people like to collect their own seeds. I can confess to being a seed hoarder. Yes, I collect my own seeds each year to save money. I also buy seeds but often can’t use the 500 seeds that may come in one package. Seeds are like clothes and shoes, you always want to try out something new. Okay maybe that’s just me.
Last night I joined Adam Cortell and Brenda Haas as a guest host to talk about organizing a seed swap. Josh Kirschenbaum was guest hosting as well. So instead of doing the usual round table discussion in person we took it over to google plus and had a hangout. Have you joined a hangout before? Its lots of fun. You log on to google plus and look for the hangout symbol which looks like apostrophe up near your log in. You can ask questions as the speakers discuss their topic. It’s a new way of connecting across the globe. From Ohio , Oregon, Illinois to my home in BC we could talk and discuss seed swaps and how each of us prepare an event like this. If you want to check out the hangout about seed swaps it’s now on you tube to watch anytime.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1XMZgTYsRY&w=560&h=315]
A seed swap is a fun way to meet other gardeners in your community. If you don’t have one already happening in your community, try to set one up at your local library. Invite friends and tell them to come and bring their friends. Put an ad in the local newspaper telling people about your seed swap. Go to your local garden clubs to announce your event. Use social media to spread the word. It’s an instant world out there and most people communicate on their phones and smart devices.
Gather up a few seeds of your own to start the swap. Package them in small coin envelopes. Count the seeds or estimate how many are in the package. Label the seed envelope with the name of the plant, number of seeds, year the seeds were bought or collected and whether your seeds are hybrid or open pollinated. If you can, provide a short description of your plant to help gardeners out. It always good to know height and colour of the plant.
Once your seeds are packed you need to figure out a way to display them at the seed swap. I like to use dollar store baskets for my seed swap. They can be found in many sizes. I place a label with the first letter of the plant name. For example, I would label one basket ‘A’ on the front and place any Arugula seeds here. In the ‘B’ basket I would place beans, broccoli, beets and other seeds starting with the letter ‘B’. You may want to keep one table just for vegetable seeds and other tables for flower and herb seeds. It just makes trading easier.
Have some reference books handy. Bring a handful of seed catalogues so people can look up the seed varieties for more information and growing tips. If you can get your local master gardeners to help out and give advice, it would be beneficial. Have any seed swap rules clearly stated. The biggest mistake I made was not realizing that people would just think the seeds were for the taking. If people arrive without seeds to trade, suggest they donate towards a package. Be careful how many are bought by donation as you could run out very quickly. Use money raised to add seeds for the next seed swap or to cover any costs you may incur.
So on the day of your seed swap encourage people to arrive on time and drop off their donations. For each package you can give them a token or raffle ticket. Once all seeds have arrived and are organized, let the swap begin. For each token or ticket the gardener can trade for one package of seed. Try to have a limit on seeds you know will go quickly. If you have someone take the only ten packages of tomato seeds you have, it doesn’t leave any for others.
Seed swaps are a great way to meet other gardeners who love to grow from seed. Once people learn about your seed swap they will be asking you when the next one is. You will love the stories you get about seeds and where they came from. Store leftover seeds until next year or donate them to a community garden. Overall just enjoy the seed swap and the new community you just met.