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#SpringThings:What to Expect at a Seed Exchange


If you’re thinking about planting a garden this year you have a couple of alternatives. One, you can buy most of your plants as starts (this adds up quickly in terms of $), two, you can go hog wild with a seed catalog (don’t forget the postage and handling!), three, wait until your local store has seeds on sale, or four, my favorite option, check your area for seed exchanges. Seed exchanges are at least as fun as the other options and cost nothing.

How do you find a seed exchange?

Often they are listed in the newspaper, or fliers are tacked up around town in stores and libraries. Try calling the local county extension office. And, of course, there’s always googling.

How does a seed exchange work–what can I expect?

The first time I considered going to a seed exchange I didn’t know what to expect. Do I need to take seeds? What kind of seeds do people bring, home harvested or partial packets from last year? I admit I felt a little nervous. Have no fear! I’ve been to several seed exchanges over the years. They should more accurately be called seed giveaways.

Most seed exchanges have hundreds or thousands of seed packets that have been donated to give away. You can come empty-handed. But you can also bring and leave seeds. Seeds you grew and harvested. Partial seed packets. At the seed exchange where I recently volunteered there were not only seeds, but seed potatoes, seed garlic, and even a few plant starts.


While most of the seeds were packets like you’d buy in a store, I really enjoyed the table of the hand labeled seeds that other gardeners brought in. Nothing germinates as well as fresh, local seed. I also liked the tiny little bags they were tucked in. I live in the city and have only a small gardening space. Most seed packets contain way more seeds than I need.



Please, seed sellers, give us the option of smaller seed packets!

Do you garden? Which do you prefer, to start from seed or to buy everything as starts? Or a mixture of both, perhaps? Leave your comments below, and happy gardening!

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!


Author S. Smith

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