Sunday, December 4, 2016

2017 Seed Swap Listing

Are you ready for National Seed Swap Day 2017?!?
The 12th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges will be held on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. There will be another on Saturday, February 4, 2017 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA.
At these two events you can meet other gardening lovers, trade seeds and secrets, and plan your garden for the coming year. New activities this year will be a Make-it Take-It Seed Crafting Table.
Registration for both will be open on December 15, 2015.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Seed Swap Listing

Here are all the Seed Swaps/Seed Exchanges taking place on or around National Seed Swap Day in 2016. (If we have missed your event, please send an email to with the details so we can add you.)


Starting Saturday, Jan 30th in honor of National Seed Swap Day
(and to go throughout the  2016 growing season)
Skagway Public Library, Skagway, Alaska
    The Seed Swap card catalog drawer will be reinstated at the library.  Local gardeners may access donated seeds by asking the librarian for the ‘Seed Swap’ drawer.  Please bring any well-labeled (type/ date collected) extra seed you have to swap. Info about seed viability/ longevity will be provided.
Details: Kim/ Skagway Organic Gardening Society (907)-983-2497


8th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap Sunday, January 31, 2016  11-3pm, Free Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery A celebration to bring seeds & people together. A community program hosted by the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Non-profit Co-Sponsors: Island Seed & Feed, Healing Grounds Nursery, Santa Barbara Seed Saving Guild, Super Bee Rescue,  & Botanical Interests High Quality Seed Co. On Facebook: Santa Barbara Annual Community Seed Swap:

Saturday, February 27 1 to 4 p.m.
Chaparral Auditorium 414 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, California 93023
Bring stories, seeds, cuttings, or starts to share, and join in a tradition as old as agriculture itself. There will be seeds and plants available for sale, too. $5 suggested donation at the door. This 5th Annual Event is open to all – seed savers and seed planters alike. Generally, most seeds are freely offered by hobbyists and professionals, although there are some sales/donation requests for certain potted plants and starts, and some commercially packaged seed. For this event, there is a $5 donation request at the door to support the sponsors. Seed swaps are an uncanny kind of potlatch that we don’t see a lot of these days, especially for general public events. While one could easily score a hundred dollars worth of free seed, the knowledge of what to do with those seeds is also freely shared by many experienced gardeners and farmers there, which probably is an of incalculably higher value — it is an especially rich community in that way.
Details at:


Saturday, February 13, 1-3pm
Berthoud Community Library, Berthoud, CO
Come swap seeds and donate any extra you have to help start our new seed library.
Details: 970-532-2757 or


Saturday, January 30 from 12noon-4:00pm at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD. 11th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange. To register:


Saturday, January 23
Seed and Scion Swap from 10:30am-1:30pm
Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore St, Decatur, GA
This event is free and open to all gardeners – whether you are a member of a community garden, or tend vegetables and fruit in your own yard.

RSVP at:  

Saturday, April 2nd 
19th Annual Old Timey Seed Swap from 1pm-6pm with potluck at 2pm
Grove Creek Farm 10 Legacy Rd Crawford GA 30630
This event is free and open to all gardeners. Please bring seeds, bulbs, plants to swap. Share and listen to old timey gardening knowledge. 



Swap Seeds at the Frankfort Public Library Saturday, January 30, 2016 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. It’s like a potluck, but with seeds. Bring one variety of good-quality, fresh seeds (heirloom seeds are preferred, but not required) to share at this fun & casual event. Go home with many varieties of seeds. The seeds will be shared with as many as 50 people so bring enough that everyone can get a few. We will provide envelopes for the seeds you will take home. For more information call 815-534-6173 or visit the Adult Services Desk.
Or go to:

Seed Exchange Feb 14 2016 @ White Oak Lockport branch Library 121 E. 8th St Lockport,Ill hosted by C.A.R.E. Citizens Against Ruining the Environment.

4th Annual Southside Organic Gardeners Seed Swap
Saturday Feb 20, 2016 from 10 – 11:30 am
U of I Extension office, 9415 S. Western Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL
Co-hosted with Abe Lentner, featuring guest speaker, Josh Tate who will share his methods for intensive vertical urban farming.  Bring your seeds, envelopes and a marker. Extension will supply limited materials.
Please register for this free event at

Seed Swap with Craig LeHoullier
Sunday, February 28, 2016 2 – 5 p.m.
Share and swap seeds with other gardeners. "Epic Tomatoes for the Midwest"
Chicago Botanic Garden's Alsdorf Auditorium
Free lecture; preregistration required


The third annual Indy Seed Swap will be held on Jan 30, 2016 from 10am to 1pm at the Historic Benton House (312 S. Downey Ave., Indianapolis, IN). Rain or shine, sleet or 12" of snow, this seed swap will take place! This is a free event for Indy’s urban gardeners at all levels (beginner to expert). If you save seeds or just love gardening, bring your seeds and stories and share with others. If you are new to seed saving, come and learn from Indy's seed-saving community.  On the agenda for this year's seed swap will also be an introductory class on new forms of veggie/fruit gardening. 2016 is the year of succession planting and a discussion of moving to and managing a succession-planting garden will be part of the day's events. If you are ready for Spring, bring your self, seeds, and enthusiasm and let’s swap! No matter what the weather on Jan 30, we will be having this seed swap. So put it in 4-low and see you there! For more information, contact Pete Kuhns,


Saturday, Feb 2/20 at 10 am

Quad Cities Food Hub 3rd Annual Seed Swap 
Quad Cities Food Hub, 421 West River Drive, Davenport, Iowa
Details at:

Saturday, February 13, 9:00am
2015 Kaw Valley Seed Fair - KS
Douglas County Fairgrounds, Lawrence, KS
Seed Exchange. Vendors, food, lectures. More than 1,000 visitors came to the fair during each of the past three years, and we expect a similar turnout this year for this wonderful event. Bring your seeds to exchange, or just pick some up at the fair. The exchange also will include books, videos and other gardening and seed-saving resources. Please bring books, etc., that you'd like to pass on to others. We especially welcome heirloom, open-pollinated seed.


On January 29, 10:00 a.m. at Spectrum Generations Coastal Community Center at 521 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME, explore YOUR "creative nature" as Master Gardener and Beekeeper Jean Vose discusses the basic "how to's" for creating a pollinator friendly garden and the seeds you should be purchasing and sprouting. Jean will also give an overview of Maine pollinators and discuss the role of native bees and managed bees in crop pollination. Participants will learn about the principles of planting a pollinator garden as well as the answer to the question why all the buzz about bees and seeds.  There will be a community seed exchange beginning at approximately 11:30 a.m. Remember to bring your seed catalogs and your questions. Fee: $5. For more information and to register call 563-1363. Website:


Saturday, January 23 

Caroline Co. from 10am- 1pm at the Central Library-Denton. The seed swap is followed by a pot-luck meal.

Calvert Co. from 10:00am-1:00pm at the Calvert Library. For more information call: Calvert Library 410-535-0291 or Calvert Extension 410-535-3662

Saturday, January 30

Anne Arundel Co. at 10:00am at the Crofton Library.

Carroll Co.beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library. Registration is required--beginning Jan. 16.   410-386-4488,    

Crofton, MD Library-Free
Master Gardeners Seed Swap- a great way to try new varieties.  Contact @AlisonRolen
Montgomery Co.-from 12noon-4:00pm at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD. 11th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchange. To register:
Saturday, March 19  
Kent Co.- from 11:00am-1:00pm at the Kent County Library in Chestertown. Call 410-778-3636 for more information.


Seed Swap on Sunday Feb 28th 1-3pm
@ Creative 360  1517 Bayliss St Midland, MI 48640
Hosted by Small House Farm and C360 Community Garden.
Contact Ben Cohen 989.708.0549 or


STL seeding Frenzy SEED SWAP 2016
Saturday, January 23 at 12-5pm (every 3rd Saturday of January)
St Louis's premeire seed swap bring your seeds or bring your dreams
The lower level, exterior, and tent that will be set up are pet-friendly. Just make sure your pet can handle crowds and you are scooping ready.
Old Millstream Bar, 912 S Main St, St. Charles, Missouri63301


Seed Swap on Saturday, January 30th from 1:00 - 3:00 PM at  2 Pillars Church, 1430 South Street, Lincoln, NE
The Open Harvest Co-op Grocery and Community Crops Annual Seed Swap falls on National Seed Swap Day, January 30th. We will be hosting a space for the Lincoln gardening community to bring their seeds saved from last year and swap them! This is a great opportunity to see what everyone has been growing and maybe branch out and try planting something new. See- 


National Seed Swap Day at Duke Farms
Saturday, January 30, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (EST)


Saturday, Feb. 6 from 11am-3:30pm
At the Main Library of the ABC Library (501 Copper NW Albuquerque, NM)
It's the 2nd annual ABC Seed Library Seed Fest! Get ready to swap, learn and make with other seedy people! We'll start things off with a closed seed swap for those with seed to trade and then open things up the rest of the day with lots of seed and information to share from community partners.
Schedule of events: 11-11:30: Closed Swap for Folks with seed to share. 11:30-12:30: Sean Ludden (Bosque Seed Collective) leads a workshop on saving vegetable seed.
12:30-1:30: Ruben Olguin (UNM, Artist) speaks on a history of indigenous seed collecting and leads an adobe seed pot-making workshop (all ages). 1:30-2: Dara Saville (Albuquerque Herbalism) speaks on seeds as medicine and food. 2-3:30pm: A free screening of the film Seeds of Time. Seedbroadcast will be outside the library the whole day to share stories. And bonus: First two hours of parking garage parking free with validation! Visit for more info.


Saturday, January 30, 9:30 am-12:45 pm
8th Annual Seed and Houseplant Swap - Upstate NY 

Rochester Civic Garden Center, Rochester, NY 
Co-sponsored by the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal
Fee: $15 includes both talks, the swaps, and refreshments. You are encouraged to bring seeds and houseplant cuttings to swap, but they are not required, and there will be plenty for everyone to take some home. Join us for a garden fix in the dead of winter, with two fun and informative talks and an opportunity to swap seeds and houseplant cuttings with fellow enthusiasts. Beat the winter blues and get a head start on spring.
Event details:

Join like-minded gardeners who are passionate about saving seeds and sharing their gardening stories at the second annual Schoharie-Otsego County Master Gardener Seed Swap at St Marks Evangelical Lutheran Church 326 Main Street in Middleburgh, NY from 9:30-10:30 am on Saturday, January 30. Come and swap vegetable, herb, and flower seeds with other gardeners from throughout our region. Network with fellow gardeners and prepare for the 2016 gardening season.
For more information contact Schoharie-Otsego County Cooperative Extension at 518-234-4303.
2nd Annual LIRSC Seed Swap. This year's swap will again be held at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, NY. Save the date and join us on Saturday, February 13, 2016. Last year's turn out was astounding and we are so excited to bring the public more talks, demos, panels and of course SEEDS to this year's swap. See:


The Jamestown Market is proud to host its 2nd annual Seed Sway Day Sat Jan 30th and Sun Jan 31st, 2016.  Hours Sat - 9-5, Sun -12-4.
Seed Savers bring your seed to exchange with others. Don't have seed to trade, we welcome you anyway. Pick up some free seed from our donations. 
We will be having several seed starting classes throughout both days.  Enjoy a cup of coffee and pastries from our bakers, talk to a farmer, bring the family and enjoy this free event.
We are also a nonprofit organization and are also looking for donations of gardening tools, tillers and canning supplies to help low income families learn how to grow their own food.
The Jamestown Market 113 E. Main St., Jamestown, NC 27282, 336-314-0306 Find us on Facebook.

January 30, 2016 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.Old Salem Visitor Center(900 Old Salem Rd.)
Annual Seed SwapSlow Food Piedmont's 5th Annual at Old Salem, Winston-Salem, NC
Join the seed swapping fun! ~Free and open to the public~
Slow Food Piedmont, with support from Old Salem Horticulture and Forsyth County Master Gardener volunteers, will hold the much anticipated, annual seed swapping event for both new and long-time heirloom seed growers.
A potluck lunch is a part of this event of fun, swap & share – you are invited to bring a dish you love to make from your garden bounty or from a favorite family recipe. Everyone is welcome.


Saturday, January 30 2016, 2pm-4pm
Cleveland Seed Bank’s Annual Seed Swap 
Coffee Proper, 17823 Detroit Ave Lakewood, OH, 44107
Connect with like-minded individuals who are passionate about saving seeds and sharing their seed stories. Come and swap heirloom seeds, rhizomes, roots, and tubers with other gardeners across our bioregion. Learn, network and prepare for the gardening season ahead.
New this year: Bring your sourdough starters, cheese and yogurt cultures, kefir grains and kombucha scoby to share. This event is free and open to all gardeners.
Details at:

February 27, 2016 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm 
Seed Swap at Scott High School Toledo, OH


Free Seed Exchange on February 20, 2016,  11am to 2pm, snowdate- February 27 same times, at the Rudy Gelnett Library, Selinsgrove, PA   17870.  All interested gardeners are encouraged to come and swap some seeds for this year's planting season.  Seeds, seed catalogs, gardening tips, gardening information, snacks and door prizes will be offered free to those attending. Details at East Snyder Community Garden <>


January 30, 2016 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
 (All Ages) Join us for our ever popular annual seed swap at the Visitor Center. Using the seeds from the plants we grow in our own gardens allows us to repeat our successes, maintain genetic diversity and be more self-reliant.  Ijams’ Seed Swap is a free event to promote the sharing of vegetable, flower and other seeds among area gardeners.  Everyone is welcome, with or without seeds!
This program is FREE for everyone. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 for more information and registration. See:


Ogden Seed Exchange - February 20
Ogden Seed Exchange will be hosting its 6th annual Seed Swap on February 20, 2016.  Please note our new location this year at Ogden Preparatory Academy, 1415 Lincoln Ave., Ogden, UT.   Time:  10:00 am - noon.   Bring your open-pollinated and heirloom seeds to trade.  You do not need to bring seeds to participate.  Bring extra envelopes for trades and/or purchases. 


Seed Saving School, 40th Anniverary Regional Seed Savers Exchange Meet and Seed Swap - Join us for a one day seed saving pre-conference intensive, Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at the Virginia Association For Biological Farming Conference  W.E. Skelton 4-H Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

Gardeners will again gather in the library for the Foundation of the State Arboretum’s sixth annual seed exchange Saturday, Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at Blandy Experimental Farm, 400 Blandy Farm Ln, Boyce, Virginia 22620. This is a free event, no tickets or reservations are required. Participants are encouraged to bring seeds, plants, roots, or cuttings to exchange with other gardeners. Native plants are especially encouraged, but no plants or seeds on the Arboretum's list of invasive plants are allowed. That list may be found at The seed exchange, which is sponsored by Our Shop and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association, will also feature a book and magazine swap. Author Forrest Pritchard will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, Growing Tomorrow. Master gardeners will also help with gardening questions. For more information call Elaine Specht at 540-459-9657 or go to:

Saturday, Feb 6, 12:30-4pm
Washington Gardener Seed Exchange - VA/DC - MidAlantic
Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, VA
Washington Gardener Magazine, the publication for DC- area gardening enthusiasts, is co-hosting the seventh annual Washington Seed Exchange at Green Spring Gardens. This event includes lectures, face-to-face seed swap, and more. You bring your extra seeds to swap with other gardeners. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds, new garden friends and expert planting advice. Fee includes lectures, goody bag and seed swap. Register by calling 703-642-5173. Fee: $20/person $15 for Washington Gardener subscribers and Friends of Green Spring. For more information, contact Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine, 301-588-6894,
Details at:


The Great Seattle Seed Swap, NW -- Saturday, Jan. 30, 1:30-4 p.m., Community Room, Brick Building, Phinney Neighborhood Association, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle. See 

Heirloom Seed Seed Swap - Bellingham's 8th Annual.
Sunday January 31st -Doors Open 3pm
"Honoring Biodiversity of Seeds for Food & Medicine"
* Amateur & Professional Seed-Savers Welcomed.
* Seed-Potatoes & Permaculture -ly Edible Tubers Too!

Majestic Hall-Inspiration Farm
619 E. Laurel Rd Bellingham, Wa. 98226
See the facebook event listing -

Historic Venersborg Schoolhouse Seed Swap  Battle Ground, WA
Sunday, January 31, 1:00-4:00pm Flowers~Vegetables~Herbs~Ornamentals~Edibles. Many are local saved seeds, non-GMO, heirloom and more. Thanks to a few generous people there will be a wide selection with many varieties. Bring your own extras if you have any. Visit with new and experienced gardeners and start dreaming of spring! Here is a partial list: basil, beans, beets, borage, broccoli, calendula, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, dill, fennel, kale, lettuce, marigold, melons, nasturtium, nigella, onion, parsley, peas, peppers, poppies, pumpkins, radish, squash, sunflowers, swiss chard, tomatoes, zinnias and more.
Informal soup/snack potluck and non-perishable food drive to benefit the North County Community Food Bank.
Details at:

The Great Seattle Seed Swap, NE -- Saturday, Feb. 6, details TBA. See

Snoqualmie Valley Seed Exchange -- Saturday, Feb. 6, Cedarcrest High School, Duvall, details TBA. See

The Great Seattle Seed Swap, West Seattle -- Sunday, Feb. 21, 2-3:30 p.m., Seattle Public Library, West Seattle Branch, 2306 42nd Ave SW, Seattle. See


Our current 2016 total so far is 46 swaps in 24 states! 
Keep checking back as we are adding new swaps to this listing all the time!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to Collect and Save Seeds

Why go to the bother of collecting all those tiny seeds? The first reason is thriftiness. No need for anything in your garden to go to waste. Compost, recycle, and re-use. The second reason is frugality.
Why buy new plants every year when you can grow your own for free? Even further, why buy unproven plants or seeds when you know the ones you are collecting from did well and obviously flourished in your yard.

Another reason to collect seeds is to ensure the propagation of heirloom varieties and rare, native plants that are not available through other means. Commercial growers and catalogs will often only carry the most popular plants and seeds. By collecting seeds from particular flowers and edibles, you are safe-guarding the future of these species. You are guaranteeing we will have a wide variety of genetic diversity in our future and not just the current “top growers.”

The final reason to collect seeds is to trade them. You may have 100s of Cleome seeds and another gardener has 100s of Poppy seeds. Why not trade a few hundred with each other? Again, you are getting new plants for free or close to it. Seed trading is a whole world unto itself. There are online groups, pen pal lists, and clubs for seed swapping.

Seed collecting is easy. Just wait until the end of the growing season when your current flowers form seedpods. Check on them every few days. They are ready when the pods are dry, brittle, and just ready to open. Don’t wait too late or they’ll break open on their own and cast their seeds to the wind. Pick a day with little breeze and no rain. Go out in mid-morning, after the sun has dried out the air and dewdrops from the leaves. Take a piece of paper and put it under the seed heads then shake them gently. Be sure the seeds are thoroughly dry before you put them in tightly closed jars or zipper-closed baggies. Label them right away and store them in a cool, dark, and dry place.

That last step is the most important. Label them with the date and variety. Be specific as possible. Next spring you’ll be very glad you did – as many seeds look alike. The date is important as you will want to use up your seeds the next growing season or two.

A side note on seed collecting: not all plants can be propagated from seed. Many plants that you buy are hybrids or sterile. If you have hybrid flowers and vegetables, they may produce seeds. However, the seeds will often not produce offspring that is “true” to the parent plants. In other words, the seeds from hybrids are often a different variety than the plant you originally purchased and they are often inferior in quality.

A simple way to get started is to collect seeds from your common annual flowers that open-pollinate: zinnias, marigolds, forget-me-nots, four-o-clocks, cosmos, cleome, and sunflowers. Then, as your gardening skills grow, move on to perennials and biennials.

So take a few minutes this harvest season to collect those plant seeds and you’ll be all set next spring for a bountiful crop of new blooms.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#SeedSwapDay is our Official Event Hashtag

Please post your pics and comments to social media from your Seed Swap Day events using the hashtag #SeedSwapDay. Feel free to also use the hashtag throughout the year to share what you grow from your seeds you acquired from the swap! We can't wait to see your shares!

Friday, January 9, 2015

How to Prepare for Attending a Seed Swap

Here are a few tips for getting prepared for attending a Seed Swap:

~ Be sure to register ASAP for the swap you want to attend. Space may be limited and some swaps fill fast. 

~ You can bring unused seeds from purchased packs or seeds you gathered from your own garden. Carefully pack and label your seeds as best you can. The more information you can provide, the better.

~ Each seed pack should have a "useable" amount of seed. Use your best judgement. For some plants, like zinnias you might include 20-30 seeds per packet and for others, like tomatoes, you would only need to put in 10 or seeds in a pack. If in doubt, err on the generous side as you can always break up a pack amongst swappers later.

~ Did you know you can make your own seed packs? Get great free downloadable templates are here:

~ Please do NOT bring large quantities of seed in one bag. Seed swap organizers and volunteers are over-whelmed at the check-in tables already. Please break them up into smaller quantity packs ahead of time or we will not be able to put them out.
~ The definition of "seeds" is usually very broad so yes, you can bring bulbs, tubers, corms, acorns, etc. to the swap. They should be bagged and labeled just like smaller seeds.

~ Older seeds are fine as long as they were stored properly, if you can test for viability that would be great. Here is how to test for seed viability. (The exceptions are lettuce, onions, and impatiens seeds, which should all be less than a year old.)
~ Store seeds for swapping in a dark, cool (not freezing) spot away from any moisture. Glass jars are the ideal storage vehicle.

~ Make a list of your seed “wants” in advance.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day and forget the basics that you came for or the rarities that you had been seeking.
~ Bring extra note paper and a pen/pencil as you will learn so much from others' at the swap and want to take lots of notes.
~ Bring extra seed bags and labels in case you want to swap directly with someone and need to break up a packet to share with them. 

~ Most seed swaps will have generic blank name tags -- but we ask participants to be creative and make their own tags or if you have your own name tag from work or another event, by all means bring it. (Some swaps will do prizes for the most creative name tags :-). We are trying to make these event green and eco-friendly.

~ If the seed swap gives out goody bags, when you get your bag at check-in, please make sure to label it with your name -- all the bags will likely look alike and can get easily mixed up. 

~ Bringing a few sheets of those personalized address labels you get with charity mailings will come in handy for this and for labeling your seed packets, giving out your contact information to fellow gardeners, etc.

~ If you are bringing seed catalogs for a give-away table, be sure to rip off the address labels and tear out any order insert with your personal information on it. Some swaps also welcome gardening books and magazines for swapping, so feel free to bring those too.

~  Most swaps screen incoming seeds and reject any GMO seeds and do not accept any seeds from invasive plants listings. See the listing at: for a start, your region's invasives list may vary. Check with your location state extension office, if in doubt about a plant's invasive status.
~ Most of all, have fun! 
Got more tips for seed swapping? Please share in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to Host a Seed Swap

Whether just among your neighbors, your garden club/plant society, or your wider community, a seed swap can be a terrific way to get lots of seeds, to meet new friends, and to learn a great deal about what grows best in our area.

   When setting up a seed swap, pick a date well in advance so that you can give participants several weeks notice. Mid-winter is the perfect season for hosting plant seed events so folks who like to start seeds indoors have enough time before the growing season.

   Next you’ll need a location. A big, open space with lots of table surfaces works well. You want some place that can get messy and will allow you to spread out the selections. Tip: contact your local public garden for space and to partner with them.

   Send out the invitations and ask all of your participants to carefully label all their seeds. Ask for volunteers to help you set up and clean up as this is definitely not a one-person job.

   Gather your supplies. You’ll want to have extra labels and baggies on-hand. Name tags are also a good ice-breaker. Extra pens/pencils and paper are a must. Once people get talking, there will be lots of note-taking.

   Asking attendees to bring some food to share potluck-style will get people munching and talking either before or after your swap. If you add food to your event, you will need to also bring a table to serve it on, napkins, cups, plates, etc. Keep the food/beverages in a separate area from the seeds so there is no danger of anything spilling on them!

   On the day of the event, have your volunteers sort the seeds as they arrive into your pre-assigned categories. Make signs for each table with the category names. (It is a good idea to screen for GMO seeds and seeds from invasive plants as they come in.)

   During the sorting and check-in period, have an expert speaker (or two or three) talk about seed-starting and garden-related topics.

   At the designated swap start time, ask each participant to come forward and briefly describe the seeds they brought to swap and a bit about their care. You may want to assign a timer to keep folks under a set limit as many fellow garden nerds can get carried away with their enthusiasm. This is where a whistle can come in handy as well.

   Once everyone has introduced their seeds, you will need to devise a fair way to assign who chooses first. Many groups give first choice to volunteers who helped coordinate and set-up the event. Other groups do it by order of arrival, by oldest to youngest, or by whim. The most common method is to pass around a basket with numbered slips of paper. Participants pick one out and that is their order of seed selection. Since most people bring several packets of seed to swap, there will be several rounds of seed selection by participants. Once the pickings start to get slim, you can announce a "free-for-all" where all-together folks can grab up any of the remaining seeds.

   If there are still leftover seeds, they can be donated to a local school or nonprofit gardens. Be sure to check in advance that these donations are welcome and will be planted in a timely manner.

Bonus Swap Features:

   At the Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchanges in DC/MD/VA, they add the following fun, green features which you may want to consider at your seed swap:

~ Prizes for the most creative name tags :-). Attendees are asked to make a name tag or recycle one from another event.

Goody Bags and Door Prizes are given out. Donations for the bags and prizes are solicited from garden-related businesses. Sponsoring businesses are listed on signage and all event promotions. The goody bags are stuffed prior to the swap day.

~ Garden Catalog/Book/Information Tables. A section of tables is set aside for garden materials that are free for the taking. Attendees are encouraged to bring in seed catalogs, garden books and magazines, flyers for other area garden events, public garden brochures, etc. Attendees are asked be sure to rip off the address labels and tear out any order insert with personal information on any seed/garden catalogs they bring in.

Our friends at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange have shared their own "how to host a seed swap" instructions here. There are many ways to structure a swap and we hope to see you at one soon!

What IS National Seed Swap Day and How Did it Get Started?

Swapping Seeds: A Gardening Tradition and Hallmark of GREEN Living!

The seed swap is a fundamental part of human history. Seeds were one of the first commodities valued and traded. Today, modern gardeners collect and exchange seeds for many reasons ranging from cultivating rare, heirloom varieties to basic thrift. The exchange of seeds perpetuates biodiversity. It is an act of giving and the ultimate form of recycling.

The first annual Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange was held in Washington, DC, on January 26, 2006. Kathy Jentz, the editor/publisher of the magazine had the last Saturday of January named an official holiday and National Seed Swap Day was born. After that event’s success, seed swaps in other cities across the nation have joined in celebrating National Seed Swap Day each year on (or around*) the last Saturday in January.

Please help spread the word on this fun, green occasion!

*We consider any seed swap taking places two weeks before or two weeks after the actual National Seed Swap Day to be part of our celebration.