Don’t worry too much about Jack and the Beanstalk! – seed-swapping is a great way to get hold of some unusual seeds!
A Seed-Swap is an event where growers, gardeners and anyone who saves plant seeds can exchange them with one another – there is usually the option of receiving seeds in exchange for a donation, allowing those who have not brought seeds to participate and come away with some seeds. Often there are seed-saving demonstrations, talks, films – and a café (organic, if you are really lucky!). Seedlings might also be available if the event is a little later in the season. One of the biggest Seed Swap in the UK (if not the biggest) is Seedy Sunday in Brighton and Hove.
You would usually expect most (if not all) seeds available at such events to be Open-Pollinated seeds (seeds that have been pollinated naturally and which will grow relatively true from generation to generation), since seed-swapping tends to go hand-in-hand with seed-saving. Seed-saving is a necessary component of vegetable breeding and also important to those who are concerned with land- or food-based resilience. You can often find seeds of rare, heritage (or heirloom) vegetable varieties – and even seeds for vegetables that have been locally adapted to grow successfully in your local climate and/or soil type (although both of these can vary surprisingly over relatively short distances!).
Find a Seed-Swap
If you are lucky you will spot posters put up where you live towards the end of Winter advertising seed-swaps. There may well be a seed-swap near you in the LoopyFood.net Events directory (although until the directory’s profile grows there are few listed – if you know of one, have it put on!). Your best bet is to contact a local Transition Town – someone there, perhaps in a food group, will know what is going on locally. Otherwise, do an internet search for ‘seed swap’ including your location in the search.
Seed-Swaps and More on LoopyFood.net
Seed-swaps and other seed stuff are well catered for at LoopyFood.net, with FREE directory listings for seed-swap events, seed-saving groups, seed libraries, Plant & Seed Producers. Individual seed-savers/swappers and veg-breeders also having their own dedicated map.
As with the rest of LoopyFood.net, the success of this initiative – especially spreading the word about the importance of open-pollinated seeds – depends on getting the word out there: if you care about these issues, share this page with like-minded folk – and encourage seed-swap organisers to get a free listing on here!
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that formal – and you certainly don’t need LoopyFood.net‘s help: why not just suggest swapping some seeds with a local gardener, maybe someone who grows on the same allotment ground as you do, but who you don’t usually talk to?!