Swapping seeds with friends and other gardeners in your neighbourhood is a great way to increase the variety of what you grow, as well as a good opportunity to exchange gardening tips.
January is the best time of year to arrange a seed exchange, when you’re gearing up to grow plants for the year ahead. Cold winter days are also when people are in need of a nice get-together.
Why organise a seed exchange?
- Save money. When you buy a packet of seeds there are always more than you need, but if you exchange these with other people, for different seeds, you get twice the range of seeds from your original investment.
- Grow new plants. You’ll pick up ideas to grow new plants and vegetables which you might not have thought of before.
- Get growing tips. It’s not just about exchanging seeds but about meeting other growers in the community and swapping ideas and advice on how to look after those plants, or even how to cook them.
- Fundraise for a project. You could organise the seed exchange so that each person makes a small donation for the seeds that they take.
Tips on organising the seed exchange
- Have gardening advice to hand. It’s useful to have someone there who knows a bit about growing. Or, you can simply gather as many gardening books as you can and spread them out on a table. That way, you can all gather round with a cuppa and look through the books yourselves
- Label your seeds. If you want the event to be fairly informal, simply place all seeds on a table with labels available to write on. Luggage tags are fun and cheap for this. At this sort of seed exchange people don’t need to bring seeds to be allowed to take some away. Or you may choose to give people a token in exchange for each different type of seeds they bring along. These are then their ‘currency’ for the seed exchange, ensuring a fair swap for all.
- Don’t forget the refreshments. Other essentials are a supply of tea and coffee. Costs for these are easily recovered, even when only charging 25p per cup. Biscuits and cakes are great too and encourage people to stay and chat for longer – and a great way to swap recipes too.
- Create publicity. Don’t be shy in telling people about your event. Posters in the local shops and schools reach a lot of people, and remember those other groups too such as WI, scouts and Brownies. Your local press and radio will have free community event slots, and you can always write your own press release to invite, including a happy photo. The local press likes a good photo opportunity, so will usually turn up.
- Donate leftover seeds. There are often plenty of seeds left over at the end of the exchange. Local schools or youth groups are only too pleased to be offered these as donations.
Learn how to harvest your own seeds with these video tips from the team.