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Minnesota Seed Swap in Early March

10 years ago

The Kelley Farm, just a short drive northwest of the Twin Cities, is hosting it's 30th Annual Seed Savers' Exchange on March 4, 2012 starting at 2 pm at it's Visitor Center at 15788 Kelley Farm Road, Elk River. It is free to the public. People are invited to bring their seeds to share, but you're not required to have something to share. The farm and some individuals also share a variety of seeds with quite a few people who have nothing to share. There is also a free seed art project for the children. The website is

Last year, the people who came overwhelmed the size of the parking lot before the event even started (there were still huge snowbanks impinging on some of the parking spaces). In any case, you may want to wear good walking shoes in case you have to park far down the road like some people did. It is a paved road, though.

Comments (5)

  • posieh
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks for the info!

  • soilent_green
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    spacetogrow - Thanks much for the information. I have been wondering if there were any major seed swap events in Minnesota. I live a ways away from Elk River, but know the area fairly well from my younger days.

    Some questions if I may:
    1.) Should a person make individual seed packets ahead of time or bring bulk bags of seed and package the seeds there when a trade has been agreed upon?
    2.) If prepackage, how many packets of each variety would you recommend I bring?
    3.) I prefer to use little ziploc-type plastic bags - is that okay? Maybe not the most environmentally friendly, but I put labels loose inside rather than stick them on so the packages are reusable. :-)
    4.) In your opinion, what do you think is more in demand, flower or vegetable seeds or both equally?
    5.) Are folks with seeds to trade supposed to show up earlier than the start time in order to set up?
    6.) Do I need to bring my own display table and chair?
    7.) Do people who show up earlier than the official start time still get to go in and cherry pick through the best stuff or do they have to wait until the event officially opens? I admit this issue bugs me regarding my local plant swap event because early birds are allowed in and people who follow the rules regarding the event start time get screwed.

    The O.H. Kelley Farm website is nice but only has basic info regarding this event. I could certainly fire off an email to the Kelly Farm organization asking these questions but I think it would be good to have a record posted on GW - bet other folks have these same questions. I would love it if a Kelley Farm rep or volunteer happened to be a member on GW and responded as well!

    Any response to the above questions from anyone who has previously attended this event is very much appreciated. It certainly sounds like fun - hope to see you there!


    P.S. I have three other people that want to go to the event with me - all first timers to the event but long time seed savers. They have the same kinds of questions such as I have posted above...

  • spacetogrow
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Tom,

    Last year was the first time I went. The farm staff had a presentation first - last year it was about a senior citizen/teen gardening project. There was seating for it but not enough for everybody. In the meantime, the children's seed art was in the room next to it.

    Once the presentation was done, the farm staff and other contributors set out their seeds - mostly in labelled bulk bags with coin envelopes and a pen or 2, for people to help themselves. I'm sure zip bags with slips of paper are fine. It helps to bring your own pen or marker, and a bag or pocket to stash your acquisitions.

    I hadn't known ahead of time how to do it so I'd already packaged up little packets with name and description. As it turned out, I'm glad I did because it wasn't a situation where you agree upon a trade. People just take what they want. The atmosphere was similar to the Incredible Edibles Clean Out Swap on the Round Robin Forum (which I recommend). You donate the (viable) seeds you know you really don't need, and have a possibility of picking up some stuff you've been looking for or just new things to try. In the meantime, a lot of people who have nothing to share may end up with a good percentage of it (can you count your contribution as a tax deduction if you go home with less than you shared?). I would say bring only the seeds you can easily spare.

    Most of the other contributors seemed to stay by their seeds - not to trade but to answer questions. One person even brought a seed catalog so folks could look up the pictures, etc. Because I had put descriptions on all my packets, I felt comfortable just setting them out on a spare end of a table for people to take as they wanted while I milled around the other tables looking for what I would like before it was gone.

    It was crowded last year and I didn't ask if that was normal. I wonder if the economy brought out a lot more gardener wannabees. I don't know how it will be this year but if a lot of seed savers bring our extra seed, we should also have a good chance to pick up things that we want.

    Last year, I mostly saw vegetable seeds (which was what I was looking for) but did hear some buzz about flower seeds being offered. I'd say a lot more people were interested in veggies, but flower seeds would not be inappropriate.

    Once the presentation was over, it was pretty much all standing and milling, so extra chairs would not be helpful. Indeed, if it's as crowded as it was last year, it might be nice to clear some of the chairs out of the way so there's more room. A small fold-up table might be useful if it's easy to carry. It depends on how many people show up with seeds to contribute, because they do already have a few tables.

    The seeds didn't get brought out until after the presentation, so the only reason to show up early is to get a closer parking spot and a chance to sit through the presentation (which lasted a little over 1/2 hour if I recall). I would guess that there were roughly 40-45 adults but the economic downturn (or cabin fever) might have increased the crowd.

    If anyone else has been to this event before, please share your experiences.

  • soilent_green
    10 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    spacetogrow - thanks much for taking the time to write such a helpful response, I appreciate it.

    I am inclined to agree with you regarding prepackaging standard quantities of seeds. Sounds like a cleaner method than bulk bags with hands reaching in and the inevitable spillage and mixing occurring.

    Doesn't quite sound like my cup of tea. I personally would be much less inclined to bring any of my rare or less common varieties. If others think that way then I suspect that there would not be many less-common vegetable varieties available that I would be seeking to acquire, and I might not get a chance to acquire them even if they are available because they would quickly get snatched up. The thought of getting into a possible elbow pushing free-for-all doesn't sound that appealing to me as well. I will have to think it over and discuss it with my associates.

    If I lived closer I would simply just grab a couple bags of seeds and go to see what it is all about.

  • spacetogrow
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    This annual seed swap for 2013 will be on March 10, 2013, at 2 pm.

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