Share, Learn, Grow at Our Seed Swaps

Sprout some new ideas for your edible garden in January! Come to the annual Seed Swaps presented by our King County Seed Lending Library branches.

Along with seeds of favorite vegetables, you will find enthusiastic fellow gardeners to share their best varieties. Many attendees at last year’s swap brought their own seeds.

Seed Swaps will be Saturday, Feb. 2 in Northwest Seattle and Snoqualmie Valley, and Saturday, Feb. 9 in Northeast Seattle and Feb. 24 in West Seattle. (See details on our Events page.)

shoppers 2017 swap

At the swap, stick around to learn about both ends of the gardening year. There will be short workshops on seed starting and seed saving. If you save your own, you can make a deposit to the library’s seed bank at next year’s swap.

Bring your edible garden seed to share. It can be commercial or home-grown seed, but please follow these guidelines:

  • Share only seeds of edible plants that your fellow gardeners would grow from seed, such as annual vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.
  • If donating packaged seed, it should be organic or open-pollinated or heirloom.
  • If donating home-saved seed, please clean it off the stems or stalks and bring only the seed.
  • You can clean your seed at the swap. We will have screens and buckets available.
  • All shared seed should be fresh, within three years of purchase or saving.
  • Please label all donations with seed type, variety if known, and year it was grown/saved.

The Seed Swaps are free and open to all; bringing seed is not required.

The King County Seed Lending Library has five locations around the county, all operated by volunteers and supported solely by donations.

Seed donation

Give Back at Seed Homecoming Oct. 6

Are you saving seed from a crop you loved? Share it with us at our annual Seed Homecoming on Friday, October 6!

chard seed
Seed of Rainbow Chard being winnowed.

Perhaps you grew out a plant from a variety you got at our Seed Swap in January, or just have lots of leftover seed from your gardening purchases this year.

You can share seed and help others grow a garden by bringing your extra supply to our table at the Phinney Farmers Market in Northwest Seattle. The King County Seed Lending Library will be accepting seed from 4 to 7 p.m.

Our Seed Homecoming marks the end of the traditional growing season, when gardeners are getting ready to put their gardens to bed.

Seed sharing at the farmers market
KCSLL Coordinator Bill Thorness shares seeds with a farmers market attendee. Photo by Lee Harper.

Combat the Popularity Contest

Saving seed is a vital step in keeping alive our most-beloved or possibly rare varieties of edible plants.

In a marketplace ruled by popularity, where only the best-selling varieties are propogated, the future diversity of our gardens may depend on our tenacity in keeping alive a wide selection of cultivars.

What Seeds We’re Seeking

The King County Seed Lending Library, now with five branches, has the capacity to store and distribute a lot of seed, but we focus on particular types of seed.

  • Please donate only seeds of edible plants that your fellow gardeners would grow from seed, such as annual vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.seed in jars
  • If donating packaged seed, it should be organic or open-pollinated, plant types that will produce seed true to the stated variety.
  • If donating home-saved seed, please winnow and clean it off the stems or stalks as much as possible and bring only the seed.
  • If you can’t clean it in advance, plan to spend some time cleaning it at our booth. We will have screens and buckets available.
  • All donated seed should be fresh, within three years of purchase or saving.
  • Please label all donations with seed type, variety if known, and year it was grown/saved.

Bonus: This year, thanks to a donation from our friends at the Seattle Farm Co-op, we will be giving away a small amount of mixed cover crop seed to anyone who brings seed for donation (or to anyone who stops at the booth, if we have enough to share). This is the perfect time to plant a cover crop to help enrich your soil on empty garden beds over the winter.

Attend OSA’s Community Field Day on Sept. 25

The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) will host its annual community field day  and variety tasting on September 25th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Chimacum, Washington. All are invited to join in the celebration, taste new varieties of organic produce, and learn about OSA’s cutting-edge research in the field. In addition to the variety tasting, local chefs will serve appetizers that showcase the culinary potential of what’s growing in local trials. 

OSA is a local nonprofit with a national reach. It is known for its leadership in organic seed research, education, and advocacy, and participates in collaborative research with farmers, universities, and seed companies from coast to coast. The September gathering celebrates the third annual harvest at OSA’s Washington research farm, which serves as the hub of its Pacific Northwest organic plant breeding, seed education, and variety trial projects. The event also allows OSA to thank its strong and growing community of friends in the region and beyond.

The field tour will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the variety tasting and chef showcase following from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. OSA’s research farm is part of the Chimacum Farm Collaborative located at the Finnriver Orchard and Cidery, which will be open for no-host tastings and purchases.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are encouraged but not required. RSVP today at seedalliance.org/events.

The Finnriver Orchard and Cidery is located at 124 Center Road, Chimacum, Washington, 98325.

Join us for Open Sesame, new seed film

One of the world’s most precious resources is at risk. This timely and emotionally moving documentary, Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds, being shown this Sunday in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, illuminates what is at stake and what can be done to protect and nurture our seed supply.

Sustainable Ballard’s Meaningful Movies is hosting, and the King County Seed Lending Library will be on hand for information and to hand out free seeds. Coordinator Bill Thorness will lead a discussion on the issue after the film.

The film will be shown at the Royal Drummer Cafe, 6420 24th Ave. NW. The cafe will offer its full menu (sandwiches, salads, coffee, beer and wine).

Open Sesame flyer

About the issue

Seeds provide the basis for everything from fabric, to food to fuels. Seeds are as essential to life as the air we breathe or water we drink…but given far less attention.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), approximately 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that existed 100 years ago no longer exist today. Heritage grain is near extinction. Seeds that were lovingly nurtured over decades or even hundreds of years have been lost forever.

And yet, seed diversity is more important than ever. Maintaining seed biodiversity allows breeders to create new varieties that are resistant to pests or thrive in temperature extremes. This is essential in a changing climate.

Meanwhile, corporations are co-opting seed genetics using patent law and just a few large companies control the vast majority of the seed supply.

About the film

In this film you will meet a diverse range of individuals whose lives center around seeds. Farmers. Renegade gardeners. Passionate seed savers. Artists. Seed activists. This film tells the story of seeds by following their challenges and triumphs as they work to save this precious resource.

Sustainable Ballard’s Meaningful Movies screenings are free, but a $5 donation to offset costs is appreciated. Come early, as the Royal Drummer will be offering happy hour prices on its entire menu before the screening.

Download the OpenSesameFlyer PDF – post & share

Seed Swap Scenes

An estimated 150 gardeners attended the Great Seattle Seed Swap yesterday, scooping small handfuls of seeds into packets, sitting in on short workshops, and visiting with non-profits and Krista Rome from guest seed company Resilient Seeds. It felt good to rub elbows with other gardeners intent on planning their 2017 vegetable garden, even though it’s too early to plant.

Here are some images from the event.

Paige
Paige, assisted by online searches, helped shoppers identify traits of plant varieties offered.
Checking a list
An attendee checked a list of desired seeds.
P-Patch
P-Patch staff warmly greeted gardeners and shared info on their program.
Seed ball workshop
Christy of the Seattle Farm Co-op added water to a soil-and-seed mixture that was turned into “seed balls” filled with pollinator-attracting flower seeds for a young attendee.
Laura from Seattle Tilth shared tips on basic seed saving in a well-attended workshop.
giant allium seedhead
A giant allium seedhead contributed by an attendee.
Legume table
Beans and peas were popular.
Shopping
Attendees lined the tables to package and share seeds. Many brought packages from their own gardens.
Seed screen
A seed screen at a demo table.

If you couldn’t attend this one, see our Events listing for more area seed swaps.