Gardening Plant exchanges

Seed Swap Day

Photo: Shuswap Seed Swap

Yes, today, January 25, 2020, is Seed Swap Day … and I just found out about it! You’d think someone would have told me (and perhaps someone did, but I failed to notice) so I could share the news with my readers. Well, as they say, it’s never too late to do the right thing, so I’m announcing it today.

The idea with Seed Swap Day is to take your surplus seeds and share them with other gardeners who also have surpluses. They could be seeds you bought, but where there were more seeds in the pack than you needed or seeds you harvested yourself of true-to-type (non-hybrid) seed varieties. They could be flower seeds or vegetable seeds.

Logo for National Seed Swap Day. Ill.: Kathy Jentz

Of course, the seeds have to be viable (most seeds stored under reasonable conditions are “good” for at least 3 years, some many more) and you have to know what they are (there are only so many “mystery seeds” most gardeners will want to deal with!) Also, you’d obviously want to note the name of the seed and details about it on an envelope. 

But don’t we all have surplus seeds we could be sharing? 

Seed Swap Day 2020

At a seed swap, you just lay out your seeds and take your pick from the others! Photo: Washington Gardener Magazine

This article is coming at the very last moment: sorry about that! So, this year, you’d have to call up a few gardening friends to get things started.

But maybe your garden club might like to organize something like this next year? Or your community garden?

Or maybe there is already a seed swap organized in your area?

In the Washington, DC area, for example, there is a big one every year: the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange, held in 2020 on Saturday, January 25, from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. They even have a program with speakers!

You can check on many of the seed swaps at the Seed Swap Day web site which offers a listing that is updated yearly. If you have a seed swap you want to announce, this is the place to go.

And there is also the Community Seed Network, set up to help facilitate the saving and sharing of seed, where you could “meet up” with others interested in sharing seeds. This could be the day you look into that.


Seed swap in Washington, DC. Photo: Washington Gardener Magazine

The first Seed Swap Day was organized by my friend and fellow garden communicator, Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington Gardener Magazine, on January 26, 2006, and it was so successful it has been repeated yearly. Soon Kathy had the day officially recognized as the National Seed Swap Day.

So, get out and do some seed exchanging today, put Seed Swap Day on your calendar app so it repeats yearly … and make sure to include a plan for a real seed swap day on your agenda for next year! 

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

5 comments on “Seed Swap Day

  1. Kathy Jentz

    Thanks for sharing this Larry! And we are happy to include all of North America in our listings – if there are any Canadian, Mexican, etc. Seed Swaps taking place on or around the last Saturday of January.
    PS You will note that our logo, hashtag, and new branding drops “national” from the title – I’d really like to see this go worldwide!

  2. This seems to be American-only info. In Canada, seed swaps under the name of ‘Seedy Saturday’ (or Sunday) began in 1990. The list of Canadian events is maintained on the Seeds of Diversity website

    • I’d forgotten that! Where I live, the Seedy Saturdays (called Fêtes des Semences) have morphed into sales tables for local seed companies. Very little seed swapping is going on.

  3. I’m not big into every day representing something, BUT in this case, I really like it. 🙂

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