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The Seed Swap helps reduce wastage & saves money
Share seeds and plants for free at the Isle of Man’s annual Seed Swap. Held each year in spring, it helps reduce waste, save money, and connect gardeners.
For the sixth year running I’ve helped to organise a community Seed Swap and Plant Share here on the Isle of Man. The idea is that anyone from the Island can show up, bring spare seeds and plants, and help themselves to what others have brought in. It’s free, easy, reduces wastage, and saves everyone a lot of money. Our latest Seed Swap was held yesterday and everyone is still buzzing from their new finds.
The Chance to Grow
So many gardeners have piles of seeds in drawers and cupboards that might never get used. Seeds from varieties they didn’t like, or maybe there were too many in the packet. Instead of letting them languish, we provide a place where they can find their way into new hands and get the chance to grow.
The event doesn’t have an entry fee or a real charge for sharing seeds — it’s all run on a donation and raffle ticket purchase basis. That means that there’s no financial pressure and that a lot more people show up. More people means more seeds which makes for an even better event.
Discovering something New
Another great benefit to rummaging through other people’s seeds is that you might discover something new. Brenda, the other main organiser, was literally whooping with delight over some Egyptian Walking Onions. A gardener for years, she’d never even heard of them before and can’t wait to get her plants in the ground.
Another person brought an entire box of Oca tubers — also called New Zealand Yams. They’re quite expensive if you order them in but yesterday there were enough for everyone to have some for free. Oca are a relatively new root vegetable in Britain and are grown similarly to potatoes. The tubers that you harvest in winter are small, crunchy, and very lemony.
A huge box of seeds leftover
I’ll be honest — I love free seeds too! Though I don’t generally spend much time looking through the seeds at the event I did find some early on. Some Patty Pan Summer Squash seeds and several big cloves of Elephant Garlic from Brenda. They’re going in the soil today.
There’s a massive box of seeds leftover from the event too. This year we’re donating them to the Children’s Centre Community Farm, where they have two large polytunnels. They’ll be put to good use in teaching the Island’s disadvantaged and special needs kids how to grow and cook their own food.
Faces New & Old
Aside from the seeds and plants, one of the best things about the event is meeting up with gardening friends. Some I don’t see that often, discounting Facebook. I had a few really good catch-ups and even met some gardening and allotment newbies . New and enthusiastic growers who can’t wait to get dug in.
I also met Kirree Kermode, a local radio producer, and she interviewed Brenda and I for the next Countryside show on Manx Radio. It airs on Tuesdays so tune in to the show or listen online from their website.
Next Year’s Event
If you’re on the Isle of Man and would like to come to next year’s event, sign up for news via our Seed Swap mailing list. I send a few Emails out before the event to let you know time, date, and any other details.
For those not on the Island, there are loads of Seed Swaps organised all over Britain, Europe, and North America. Get in touch with a local gardening or allotment association to see if they have one and if not, you could organise your own. These are my tips on how to organise a community seed swap.