For the past few years I've been organizing a seed swap at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show among a few friends (sometimes strangers too) at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. We referred to it as a "shady seed swap" because we operated without permission of the flower show, and sometimes would sneak off into an empty room to swap our seed bounty. This year the show contacted me to ask me about it and I was certain that I was in some kind of trouble for A)using the show location for organizing without permission, B) taking over a room for a couple of hours without their knowledge.
I'm glad I took the call because it turned out that the show had heard about the swap (they knew all along really, guess I'm not that slick) and were interested in learning about why gardeners swap seeds. After a discussion the organizers of the show asked if I would open up the seed swap to all of Chicago, because it is in the spirit of the show's mission to educate, inspire and motivate gardeners. Since I've always been envious of the big seed swaps in Canada and England I, of course, said yes.
So, on Sunday March 11th from 3PM-Until they kick us outPM the Chicago Flower & Garden Show will be host to the first ever "Great Chicago Seed Swap," and you're invited! There will be a table for annual seeds, perennial seeds and edibles. Backyard gardeners, community gardeners, school gardeners are all welcomed.
To participate: package your home saved seeds in paper coin envelopes or plastic baggies. Print (as clearly as possible) the name of the plant and any other information you think a gardener would need to grow it successfully. I'll be including my e-mail address on my seeds so I can be contacted. Part of the appeal for me of swapping seeds is passing on their history and my experience with them.
Just like in previous years the D. Landreth Seed Company will have a booth in the marketplace at the show. This is where I purchase my seed potatoes every year. Last year, Barbara, the company's owner, told me that she had a lot of seed potato sales from people mentioning that they heard about them on this blog and that made me really happy. If you hadn't heard see this post about the company's financial difficulties this year. I'll be supporting the company by buying seeds and seed potatoes at the show and encourage you to do the same.
I'm looking for a couple of volunteers to act as monitors and just generally help ensure that the seed packs are on the right tables. Also, if you can donate some seeds that would be helpful. Seed swaps bring in new gardeners and people who are just interested in learning more about what's happening. So they don't go away empty handed, I'll need some donated seed. Sign up to volunteer using the form below. Your info will not be shared or published.
Direct link to the form here in case the embed feature is not working.
I'm excited and a little terrified. While I've hosted plenty of seed swaps across the city this is the first time anyone in Chicago will attempt a seed swap at this size in easily accessible location where thousands of people pass through every day. To keep up with the latest news about the seed swap subscribe to this blog's feed using the e-mail subscription box, RSS or "Like" my page on Facebook where I'll be posting updates. Note: You can log into ChicagoNow and comment with a Facebook account if you have any questions.