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Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Organize a Seed Swap

  1. Find a group of seed geeks who want to trade seeds.
  2. Pick an appropriate location based on the size of your group.
  3. Give each participant one ticket per pack of seeds they bring to trade.
  4. Organize seeds into 3 groups, Vegetables/Fruits, Flowers, Herbs/Other.
  5. Give the participants time to browse the available seeds/socialize/drink wine & beer/eat delicious snacks.
  6. Allow each person to choose one pack of seeds in return for one ticket.
  7. Repeat #6 until all tickets are used.
Last night I attended my first seed swap. I was pretty unsure of how this thing would go down but then arrived to find that everybody else felt the same apprehension as me. There were about 7 of us. One of the girls who participated said she was a little intimidated and didn't know if her seeds were "cool enough" to bring for trade. Then she likened the seed swap to a "seed prom!" We informally decided the seed prom queen was someone who showed up with seeds she brought home from Italy in lovely homemade packaging.

It was really incredible to sit around talking seeds and gardening with these folks. They really knew their stuff! Plus, I met 3 new people. One of them was a male who again shattered the male gardener stereotype floating around in my head. Before we knew it, it was 10:30. A seed swap until 10:30! That's crazy! Obviously we all had a very enjoyable time and we're already plotting our next swap.

If you grow stuff from seed, chances are that you've got a whole bunch of seeds you'll never use. I encourage you to get together with your other seed geek friends for an informal seed swap. It's great fun and I brought home some really cool stuff that I would never think to buy.

Happy Swapping!


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  2. So just what DID you take home? Inquiring minds want to know!

  3. This was a very fun event!!
    Am so glad I cleaned the house so everyone could meet here. ;-]

    I definitely want to do this again! Even though I didn't have time to package up all the seeds I had to swap I still had 39 packets, including lots of heirloom tomatoes.

    In answer to your question, Kylee, I swapped for the following:

    Chanti sunflowers
    reg yellow sunflowers
    brown/yellow sunflowers
    Morinadi Chioggia squash
    hollyhock, the watchman
    orange cosmos
    turnip greens, seven top
    San Marzano tomatoes (circa 2008)

    All were 2009 except for the tomatoes and the hollyhocks were from 2010.

    I scored enough sunflower seeds that I should be able to fully line the sound border of the house, hopefully, they'll grow tall enough to reach the sun that stops about a foot off the ground due to the nearness of our neighbor's house.

    If we want to do this again, let me know. We easily fit 8 people in my house and could probably fit more.

  4. This sounds like a super fun time!

  5. Kylee - here's what I brought home

    Lao Green Stripe Eggplant
    Eggplant Victoria
    Sunflowers - 3 different varieties
    Turnip Greens
    Radish Shunkyo
    Spanish Black Radish
    Green Onions

    These may not seem all that exotic, but it'll be my first time growing them all. Well, I did grow Black Beauty Eggplant last year but I gave it all away, never even tasting it. So, that doesn't count!

  6. Sounds better organized than any seed swap I've ever been to. I like the ticket idea.

    The last one I went to had an argument breakout over seeds.

  7. Thanks so much for the info on how to do the seed swap! Have been wanting to organize one with our farmer's market but wasn't quite sure how to go about it. Love the ticket idea!

  8. Well, if only I'd seen this yesterday instead of five hours after the seed swap I organized...

    This does sound like a good plan. I'd asked someone who's organized swaps for years how to ensure that it would be orderly, but it seemed like there were too many unknowns to deal with (if you make it open to the public).

    Several people who came to the event that I led today had nothing (since they're new to the game), but I had planned to give away seeds to anyone was interested. In the end, I came home with most of what I had taken with me, plus a stack of packets that others wanted to share.

  9. Great post! Thank you for the wonderful seed swap directions. Now I want to find local fellow gardeners to do this with! I really like the ticket idea - clever!