Perfectly Preserved Podcast Ep 24 - How to Start a Seed Swap in your area
In this episode I share my seed saving expertise. In this episode you’ll learn what a seed swap is, why you’d want to save seeds in the first place, the steps needed to create a seed saving movement, the upfront costs of a seed swap, and my favorite resource for saving seeds.
A seed exchange is simply growers coming together to share seeds and for others to purchase seeds. I love being able to connect with local gardeners and community members. The Ogden Seed Exchange puts on the largest seed swap in Utah. There’s usually 600 people who attend this event and I love helping organize it.
To begin a seed exchange movement, you can start really small at a coffee shop, library, or outdoor location. You need 3-5 folks with seed saving knowledge who are motivated to build the event. One of our missions of the OSE is to make all events free to include the greatest number of attendees.
Seed companies may be willing to send free seeds, but your focus may want to be hyper-local seeds and small companies with a similar mission. Ideally, your seeds will be open pollinated, heirloom varieties, and adapted to your climate. By saving and swapping, you’re getting smarter, stronger seeds that have adapted to your local area. Every single region, really, should have their own set of seeds that are best suited for that area.
Pick a date that’s early enough in the season. For Utah, it is the last weekend in February. From there, you want to network your buns off to connect with people who will participate. Key members approach business to donate, or attend, and or participate. The OSE has a raffle for which businesses can donate prizes. The proceeds of the raffle pay for the gymnasium space where the event is held and any necessary supplies for events.
The day of the event (Mine runs from 10 am to 1pm) people often line up before it even begins. We partner with the local Master Gardener program and invite members of that program to participate, talk about the extension office, etc.
The growers who bring seeds to swap or sell often are enthusiastic gardeners. Don't have any saved seeds? That's okay! Come enjoy the atmosphere of the event. People without seeds can purchase seeds for around $1-$2 a pack.
Saving seeds is about quality, and so is food preservation. Saving seeds closes that food source loop and provides you with the best possible food.