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Swapping seeds in the name of food diversity

Vanessa Sutcliffe
21 March 2012
Blog team: 
Join Vanessa Sutcliffe, Millennium Seed Bank Training Specialist, as she gets ready to organise the next Great Seed Swap taking place at Wakehurst on Saturday 20 October 2012.

It’s early days yet, but not too soon to start planning this year’s Great Seed Swap event at Wakehurst. Our inaugural seed swap was held in September last year and was a great success. As well as hosting a talk by the inspiring James Wong on little-used vegetable varieties, and a Gardener’s Question Time session led by Matthew Biggs, we had demonstrations and tours given by our experts at Wakehurst.

James Wong and Matthew Biggs outside the Millennium Seed Bank at the Great Seed Swap, 2011

A successful first seed swap

The Millennium Seed Bank exhibition room was filled with gardeners, happily swapping seeds with the help of the campaign group Seedy Sunday. The national growing charity Garden Organic were also there, supplying interesting vegetable varieties through their Heritage Seed Library stall. Visitors were able to browse other stalls selling local produce, unusual seeds, and giving out information on local sustainability groups and campaigns. We also had a chef who prepared delicious meals from heritage vegetables that had been grown in the Wakehurst nursery.

The food diversity message

These seed swap events are designed to show people the incredible diversity of plant varieties that can be grown at home for food, and to encourage gardeners and horticulturalists to use as wide a range of plants as possible by exchanging seeds.

Rachael Davies, Processing Assistant at the Millennium Seed Bank, showing visitors how to process seeds on the seed swap stall

Early bookings for 2012

So, for this year’s seed swap we’ve started to get in touch with some of our friends from last year: those who supported our first seed swap and are keen to come back again.

  • Thomas Etty esq., a supplier of heritage seeds and bulbs, will have a stall selling seed packets and gift boxes.
  • Beans and Herbs will be selling seeds collected from different parts of the world, many of which are rare heirloom varieties with a fascinating history.
  • Transition Horsham will attend, with information about their community group which is committed to building a network of flexibility and resilience in the face of the challenges of climate change and peak oil.
  • The Rustic Mushroom Company will be selling woodland mushrooms and home-growing kits, and will even give demonstrations showing how to inoculate logs with mushroom spawn.
  • Growers of rare plants, Edulis, will have unusual edible plants and vegetables, fruit trees and shrubs, as well as autumn perennials.
  • And the Mid Sussex Wood Recycling Project will join us again, with their fantastic range of garden furniture made from recycled timber, by an environmentally responsible, not-for-profit social enterprise.

Packets of seeds from Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library at the Great Seed Swap, 2011

This gives you a taster of what to expect on Saturday 20 October 2012. Watch this space to find out who will be coming to give talks on the day, and to discover other activities and stalls that will be included in the programme.

- Vanessa -


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30 October 2012
Dash it! Wish I'd know - 20th Oct was my birthday and I help to run a seed swap in Southampton! How did it go by the way, looked amazing from the description.
25 March 2012
Congratulations for a nice Seed Swap!
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