Having been to a few gardening swap meetups, and recently having the opportunity to jointly run my first seed swap event, I’d really like to encourage other gardeners to do the same thing. They have so many benefits, including:
- Reducing waste – most seed packets are too big
- Saving money – no need to buy so many packets
- Increasing variety – good for biodiversity and supporting heirloom varieties
- Sociable occasion – chance to meet interesting and like-minded folks
- Sharing knowledge – passing on all kinds of information
- A chance to help bees – important for pollination
After seeing good practice at other events, and learning first hand by trial and error, here are some tips that should help you get your own seed swap event up and running with the minimum of fuss and maximum impact.
How to run your own seed swap event
Six top tips for success…
1. Pick a good time in the growing year
Choose a peak date when people are either looking for lots of seeds, or have surplus to give away. Supply and demand is best in:
- February, at the very start of the season
- May, at the end of the last frost dates
- October, when home grown seed is collected
2. Give swappers plenty of warning
Publicise your event well in advance to get the word out. Use lots of different ways of passing the information on, such as:
- Local noticeboards
- Word of mouth
- Mailing lists
- Community organisations
- Facebook groups
- Flyers, posters etc
Make sure that you give as many details as you can about location, directions, times, contact details, and how the swap will actually work.
3. Make it accessible
Hold your event in a safe, friendly place that’s easy to get to. Ideally make it very close to public transport, for anyone who doesn’t have a car or live around the corner. Make sure it’s a venue where people can turn up on their own and not feel stressed.
If people are complete gardening beginners, or don’t have anything to swap, make them welcome too. For example, they could be asked for a small charity donation in place of bringing seeds.
4. Be prepared
Some enthusiastic people will turn up right on time, or even a bit early, so get ready to make the most of it:
- Bring a few packets of seeds yourself to get the event started off
- Make a clear sign or poster so you’re really easy to find
- Make it simpler to share packets – bring seed envelopes, pens and small sealable plastic bags
- Set out big waterproof trays – it helps with organising different types of seeds, keeps packets dry if any drinks are spilled, and contains seeds if any packets become split
5. Enjoy yourself
Relax and have fun. Grab a few packets of interesting garden goodies. Meet some nice new people, and be enthusiastic about the coming growing season. Make sure that you say ‘thank you’ to people and businesses that contribute to the event too.
6. Clear up afterwards
There will always be a few packets left over at the end of a swap, so it’s a good idea to have a plan for them. For example, they could be donated to the kitchen garden of a local school or care home, or to a community garden in the area.
If you’re holding your event in a cafe or pub, make sure you buy a few drinks to support your hosts and tidy away after yourselves. You’ll be welcome back at the venue when you decide to have your next seed swap meetup.
Do you have any other tips for organising a swap event for gardeners? Please share if you do.