National Seed Swap Day is traditionally the last Saturday of January, but can take place any time that make sense where you live. That could be early March in northern climates or late fall in the South.
Seed swaps are great for meeting other gardeners in your area and giving and receiving seeds for varieties that might be new to you. Here’s how to host your own seed swap.
Find a Venue & Volunteers
Ask garden clubs, Master Gardeners, etc. to help you find a venue, suggest speakers, and provide volunteers. The event should be about four hours plus an hour before and after to set up and tear down.
Book a Speaker
Book one or more speakers. If you’re on a budget, Master Gardeners, some garden clubs and garden centers provide free speakers. Communication is key. Tell the speaker exactly what you want them to talk about, how much you can pay, how long they have and if you want Q&A time. Coordinate their talks for variety. Let them know what you can provide regarding audio/visual equipment. Get everything in writing in advance between you, the venue manager and the speaker(s).
Set Up Event Registration
Charge at least a few dollars and use an app such as Eventbrite for pre-registration. The fee will provide speakers’ fees, pay for light refreshments, and buy things like name tags, pens, markers, small baggies and labels in case people haven’t bagged their seeds ahead of time.
A nominal fee of $5-$10 for those who pre-register and $10-$15 for those who register at the event is reasonable. If someone can’t afford it, perhaps let them volunteer instead. Making an event through Eventbrite will make collecting money easy. Have change for those paying cash at the door. Have at least two registration volunteers-one to check in those who have pre-registered and the other to take cash payment or to help people register through Eventbrite.
Spread the Word!
Market your event! A Facebook event will spur interest and local newspapers usually announce Community Events. See if local garden centers, clubs, or other businesses will advertise. Ask friends and family to share.
Define the Rules
Publish an agenda ahead of time so everyone knows how the Seed Swap will run-i.e., “Split seeds between several small baggies or envelopes and label them with as much info as possible before arriving. Doors open at 11:30 AM, our speakers will talk from 12:00-2:00 PM. Door prizes at 2:00 and the swap will begin at 2:15. We will run at least three rounds of swapping. Light refreshments will provided. Bring old garden books, tools and catalogs you no longer want. Bring a tote bag and a water bottle.” Let people know that it’s OK if they don’t bring seeds, but allow those who did bring seeds to take their turn first each swap round.
Set Up The Event with Clear Signage
Set up tables around the room and have clear signage: annual flowers, perennial flowers, root veggies, melons/squash, tomatoes/peppers/eggplant, etc. As people arrive, ask them to put the seeds on the proper table. Have volunteers check and organize the packets.
Welcome your Swappers!
Let people walk around and write down their top picks before the swap rounds. When the first round begins, they can quickly go to the appropriate table, get their pack of seeds and return to their seat to await round two. After the last round of the swap, you can have a “free for all” where everyone is welcome to grab a few more packets of seeds and take a final look at the donated books, catalogs and tools.
Before people leave, ask everyone to help clean up. Take photos of the room before the event so you can direct people where to return tables and chairs.