How to set up a seed swap

How to set up a seed swap
Did you know that the last Saturday in January every year is National Seed Swap Day?
It is the perfect time to prepare for the hopefully not too far away Spring!

What is Seed Swap Day?

Seed swapping has taken place for centuries as seeds were one of the first commodities that were traded. These days it is a perfect form of recycling as
the idea is to collect seeds from plants you already have in your garden/surrounding area or leftover seeds and to swap them for something different – basically sharing some of your gardens and at the same time promoting biodiversity. It is a fun activity and can encourage people to try new things.

Who do I swap seeds with?

Seed swapping can be done with friends, neighbors, or anyone interested in growing things! Lots of towns have their own events going on so check out if anything is going on in your local area.

For seed swapping the seeds are normally put in seed envelopes. Then count the seeds or estimate how many are in the package. Label the seed envelope with the name of the plant, the number of seeds, the year the seeds were bought or collected. If you can, provide a short description of your plant to help people out. It was always good to know the height and color of the plant!

Children and seeds.

This activity seems an ideal time to involve children in growing things from seed. The excitement of sharing/swapping seeds and then growing them could be just the stimulus required for sparking an interest in growing things. Growing anything from seed is a wonderful learning experience for children but I think even more so is to grow food. All food starts with a seed but children can find this a difficult concept. Growing and then cooking their own food helps raise awareness of where food comes from and encourages healthy eating.

It is a good idea to start growing seeds on a kitchen window sill and encourage the children to water using a spray bottle. Then the children can easily watch the seeds germinate.

Why not explore different foods throughout the week with your children to learn more about which ones have seeds? They may find this surprising!

There are so many activities for using seeds with children other than planting and growing. There are many types of craft activities and investigations too and a range of different skills can be developed from making comparisons and counting to looking at life cycles. Many activities can be done for a range of ages. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Activities to do with children.

  • Compare seeds. Think about questions such as: What are seeds? What is inside them? Why are seeds of certain shapes and sizes? How do plants spread their seeds?  – magnifying glass, seed tray (ice cube tray), seeds
  • Develop vocabulary such as germinate, root, shoot, leaf, dispersal.
  • Make your own seed packet. Most seeds are kept in paper packets so that the seeds can breathe.
  • Try a germination test by putting some of the seed onto a damp kitchen roll, roll this up and keep it in a plastic bag/container and check every day to see if the seed has germinated
  • Grow quick germinating seeds in a variety of situations – fridge, windowsill, dark cupboard, etc and monitor their progress.
  • Make a seed counter to make it easier for young children to count the seeds and practice their counting skills along the way. Find one here.

For other ideas linked with children and seeds please look at our Pinterest board.

Would you consider swapping/gathering or buying seeds and growing things with your children?