Columbus’s First Annual Fall Seed Swap – What, How & Why

October 15, 2012


By Elizabeth Neer

The seed swap is on Saturday, October 20, 2012, at 11:30 am – 2:00 pm at OSU Urban Arts Space.

It is FREE and open to the public. This is because we firmly believe that growing healthy, delicious food is cultural work that should be shared by everyone in the community.  We all eat, right? 

Bring your extra edible and useful garden seeds with you to share. There will be tables organized where you can deposit them appropriately.  Bring some envelopes with you to take home your swapped seeds in. Junk mail happens, and this is one way to put those recycling-bin-bound return address envelopes to use! Seal ‘em, cut in half widthwise and you’ve got two envelopes! Pop some seeds in, label appropriately, fold the open end and tape ‘em shut.

Make sure to label the seeds that you contribute with as much relevant information as you can accurately provide.  Common name, variety, and date saved are bare minimum. Latin name is great if you know it, and location is helpful for gardeners’ future efforts in locally adapting the variety to our bioregion. Notes on the plant’s preferred growing conditions take guesswork out of your fellow gardeners’ work next year.

Here’s an example: TOMATO, Napoli Roma Paste. Det. Concentrated early, small-medium red fruit. Trellis! Great flavor, esp. sauce and sun-dried. 09/12 Linworth Rd garden, Columbus.

Also, as autumn is the time when perennials and biennials are sending their energy down into their root systems to prepare for winter, now’s a good time to divide plants such as Echinacea, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, etc. Bring your extras to the seed swap!

Kids are welcome, too! If you’ve ever wished you could bomb your garden with salad greens or flowers, this is your chance to learn how. Take some home with you to strew freely. 

Please know this: it is okay to come empty handed. However, you may be empowered to come next time carrying a bounty to share! The rule of thumb is to take no more seed than what you will plant in your garden next year.

Let’s see how botanically diverse we can make Columbus’s first fall seed swap! For questions, please contact columbusohioseedswap [at] gmail [dot] com. Also contact us if you share the vision of creating a more resilient food system in Central Ohio and are interested in helping to make future seed swaps happen. Feedback about this year’s event is most welcome, as it helps guide us to what is relevant in our community, so don’t be shy to share your experience!

I’m not afraid to label myself a plant geek. And as of almost 17 months ago I’m also a mama to one vivacious little toddling boy. Before and since then, I myself have been toddling toward my ideal scenario; where I could carve out a patch of earth to make as healthy, productive and as multifunctional as possible, for all its inhabitants. Permaculture, in a word. After meeting Trish Dehnnbostel while volunteering at the Godman Guild community garden in 2006 and working two seasons on organic farms, I resolved to make my life growing healthy, fresh food. Whether to market to the larger community or to just provide for my own family has been the ongoing question in my mind, and learning about how permaculture views lifestyle and career as one and the same has really helped me navigate that quandary.  

I got acquainted with the importance of seed saving while living in Eugene, Oregon in 2010 when I volunteered with Nick Routledge at the Springfield Youth Garden. My days were spent helping sow and pot up calendula and kale, broccoli and basil; meanwhile Nick showed me the ropes of managing a greenhouse, grafting fruit trees, and introduced me to the Seed Ambassadors’ work. These folks have my dream job—growing out interesting rare varieties of vegetables during the growing season and travelling the world in the winter, trading seeds as they journey. They’ve written a brilliant little ‘zine that eloquently explains all the whats, whys, and hows of seed saving. It was also in Eugene that I attended my first seed swap. Ever since moving back to Columbus the idea to host a seed swap has been in the back of my mind. When I mentioned it to my friend Trish at Local Matters, she was pumped. The Growing Matters program’s goal is to collaboratively work with the community to plan, grow, harvest and cook their own food—there was an immediate shared connection for the swap. So we got right down to it and are very excited to bring you Columbus’s First Annual Fall Seed Swap!

Until then, here are some of my favorite (ahem!) seedy books:

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