After experiencing the “blizzard” (aka Snow-mageddon, Blizzaster, or Snowhere Near Expectations, depending on your location) that just swept through the eastern half of the US, it’s somewhat difficult to believe that now is the right time of year to start thinking about seeds and gardens and green plants reaching up through the soil. However, January 30 was “National Seed Swap Day”—a day dedicated to
- sharing open-pollinated seeds suited to local conditions,
- socializing with other gardeners,
- and preparing for spring gardening season
If you think about it, a seed swap or seed exchange at its very basic level has probably been around since the very beginning of agriculture, so it’s not really a new concept. But today’s seed swap can come in many different forms; from annual local celebration events that include an educational component like the Sustainability Project’s Seed Celebration in Gilsum, NH, to more seasonal seed exchange communities such as the Olympia Seed Exchange in Olympia, WA, to online seed swaps that bridge the miles between participants like GardenWeb’s Online Seed Exchange.
Seed swaps today serve an important role in preserving heirloom plant varieties that may otherwise go extinct if they aren’t reproduced by more people. They also help preserve the cultural heritage of an area by upholding and distributing the varieties that are not much a part of mainstream agriculture. These values align closely with the non-profit membership organization Seed Savers Exchange which is dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds; not to mention the Global Seed Vault in arctic Norway that serves as the veritable Fort Knox of seed saving.
Don’t know much about saving your own seeds? Here are some great resources to help you get started!
So ignore the fact that snow piles abound this time of year and start thinking about what seeds you might want to plant in your garden, window box or farm fields. Find a seed swap or seed exchange near you or maybe even start one of your very own.
Voracious for Vegetables,