It may be cold, but it's never too early to start planning a garden. The Carroll County Public Library’s Westminster branch will host a seed swap on National Seed Swap Day, which is Saturday, Jan. 27. The swap begins at 11 a.m.
“It’s a fun event in the middle of winter when we’re all dreaming of our gardens,” said Liz Jones, the Westminster branch’s adult services supervisor.
National Seed Swap Day was born when Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine’s editor/publisher, held the first annual seed exchange on January 26, 2006, according to National Day Calendar website. Jentz had the last Saturday of January named an official holiday and now seed swaps occur in other cities across the nation on or around the last Saturday in January.
Jones said this is Westminster Branch’s third seed swap. Participants are encouraged to bring heirloom or open-pollinated seeds from their gardens to share with others.
“I think it’s been successful because people have an interest in sharing their garden bounties with their neighbors and just meeting other local gardeners,” Jones said.
Courtney Coddington, University of Maryland Extension Carroll County’s Master Gardener Program coordinator, will also talk to the group about why seed saving is an important heritage to preserve.
“I’m going to highlight examples of when seed savers saved the world or some genetics from extinction,” Coddington said. “There are plenty of great stories of really cool plants being rediscovered in the gardens of seed savers. What's old is new again and in the world of heirloom seeds the older the lineage the more interesting it is.”
Carroll County Master Gardener Kay Sedlak said seed swaps are important because they help preserve the genetic diversity of plants.
“With the consolidation of the seed industry and their dependence on hybrids, a lot of the old varieties have died out,” Sedlak said. “Swaps help heirloom varieties to be preserved.”
Master Gardener Marty Hankins said she’s excited to see what kinds of seeds people save and share.
“I think it will be a good learning experience,” Hankins said. “It’s really satisfying to go through the whole process of growing something from scratch. It’s a lot of work but I enjoy watching the whole cycle.”