In anticipation of the spring planting season, The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece on an old trend in gardening that is gaining new ground: “A Growing Obsession: Rare Seeds.” Instead of relying on one-seed-fits all packets from Home Depot or local nurseries, seed exchange members:
1) Harvest seeds from their own plants
2) Mail them in to add to the seed exchange collection
3) Take their pick from everyone else’s donations, which may represent regions all over the world
Not only are seed exchanges a great way to find rare seeds you may not normally have access to, but it is typically more economical. Annual membership dues usually run between $5 and $40 with seed packets themselves selling for as little as 50 cents a pack.
PROGRAMMING NATURE: SAVE, SUSTAIN, SOCIALIZE & BREED TRUE
CompostMania co-founder Karl Warkomski says finding rare seeds at nominal prices is just one of multiple reasons gardeners worldwide find seed exchanges so attractive.
“It’s do-it-yourself-sustainability,” says Karl of seed exchanges. “They want to save money but it’s also a way for people to take charge of their own food security. Then there’s the social aspect of seed exchanges – members want to share their work and build relationships in the process. It’s also a great way to avoid the hybrid ‘franken-seeds’ that don’t breed true.”
Taking the seed exchange concept one step further, CompostMania co-founder Robert Olivier likens this trend in gardening to the open source programming of the online world.
“When people see something beautiful they want to share it,” says Robert. “But because there is a limited supply, seed exchange programs are the best way to make certain seed varieties go viral, so to speak. In fact, people who participate in seed exchanges are like the open source programmers of the gardening world, simply wanting to share their work with others who need and appreciate it. While open source programmers code over the internet, gardeners are coding with nature in their gardens.”
JOIN A SEED EXCHANGE TODAY
Gardeners have historically shared resources with another, whether it’s seeds from their plants or worms from their colonies. “One of the primary benefits of composting systems, like the BioPod Plus for example, is you can share grubs with your fellow gardeners,” says Karl. “Like sharing grubs, exchanging seeds presents an opportunity to make self-sustainability a community-wide endeavor.”
Seed image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photofarmer/2426879303/
Vegetable garden image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/southernfoodwaysalliance/2593250285/