SeedBroadcast asked me to write something for their Spring 2015 issue. This is a copy of the article, in case you have not picked up an issue at one of the seed exchange stations or the seed swap in March.
Many thanks to Chrissie Orr, who I met at a seed swap in Peñasco in April, and the SeedBroadcast crew for their work in the farm field and in the seed field! Read about them on their website, and follow their Facebook page to hear their broadcasts of interviews with farmers and seed savers.
The Taos (NM) Seed Exchange sprouted in January 2013. As I wondered what to do with my ever-expanding seed stash, I came across two organizations that inspired me. I took ideas from Eating in Public in Hawaii and the Richmond CA seed library, Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library to create a hybrid for my quirky agricultural community.
I embraced the ideas of sharing and recycling. The Taos Seed Exchange became a perpetual seed swap for home gardeners. Seed exchange stations were made of recycled boxes and furniture, and they were set up in progressive businesses around the region. They provided places for gardeners to share their seed stashes and trade for something new throughout the growing season.
Magic and sharing
This project has been built with magic and the goodness of gardeners. Whatever I’ve needed has come graciously and easily, be it seeds, supplies, stamina, brainstorming, venues or problem solving. If I ever had a question, it was answered quickly. I felt like a catalyst for the universe to get seed to local gardeners. It was that effortless.
Along with seed, I also disseminated gardening information. As people caught on to the dangers of GMOs and pesticides, they wanted to learn how to grow their own food. They felt it was safer.
I fielded a lot of Gardening 101 type questions and helped many new gardeners get started. They grew and bloomed throughout the season. They were fearless and excited about experimenting. They learned how to sow seed in spring, put up food for winter, and everything in between. I was honored to be a part of their joy!
The Taos Seed Exchange was built on donations. Seed companies and local gardeners donated hundreds of pounds of seed the first year. The second year was bigger, and this year, I have a small storeroom full of donated seed!
Now people around the country are contacting me for seed to start their own exchanges and libraries. I have been happy to pay it forward and donate to get them on their way. Sharing is key.
The Taos Seed Exchange is in its 3rd season and continues to expand. If it sprouted two years ago, I’d say its first true leaves are now showing. There is much to look forward to, and I will coax it along with good nutrients, light and warmth.
I held a small seed swap to celebrate National Seed Swap Day on January 31st. Now I am energized about the coming year! I met gardeners new to the area eager to take on the challenges of our harsh growing conditions. I connected with colleagues to create more events, and I shared a lot of seed and gardening advice.
Gardeners are a good lot. I am grateful for and warmed by everyone I have met. I feel blessed by the generous offerings of organizations such as Eating in Public, the Richmond Seed Lending Library, the Cleveland Seed Bank, Native Seeds/SEARCH, SEEeD (Semillas Españolas Ecologicas en Deposito), and every seed company and seed farmer that has made a donation or that I have had a conversation with.
The businesses hosting the seed exchange stations are as passionate and excited about this venture as I am. Gardeners everywhere inspire me to keep learning and growing. This has truly been a community effort!
The Taos Seed Exchange is the most gratifying project I have ever been involved in. It’s heartwarming, fun and full of love. It is pure joy.