In the fall when I began saving the seed from last year’s garden, I ordered a custom stamp to use on my seed envelopes specifically for these events. I love staying in touch with other local gardeners and wanted to give out something to remember me by.
Saturday’s event, the Annual Seed Exchange was at Morning Sun Homestead in New Egypt, New Jersey. This is held at the homestead, a private residence of Laura, a talented and experienced herbalist and her family. She grows rare native herbs in her diverse yard and holds workshops and events throughout the year. Follow Morning Sun on facebook and take a look at this board for a list of upcoming events!
Potluck is encouraged at most of the Morning Sun events and Laura generously shared home made “fire in the pines” fire cider as well as fresh made muffins and home made lentil soup with her guests. The family sells products they make on the homestead including firecider, tinctures, teas, personal care and beauty products as well as a variety of smudge sticks and dried herbs. There is no obligation to purchase anything at the free seed exchange and participants are encouraged to come and participate even if they don’t have seeds to share.
The environment is warm and welcoming and guests mingle and talk about garden challenges they are facing and projects they are working on. It’s a delightful and informative afternoon!
The Sunday morning Seed Swap was at Insectropolis in Toms River, NJ. I think this was their 2nd time hosting an annual seed swap and the turnout was fantastic! Theirs even included vendors and presenters who set up tables, exhibits and display boards around the perimeter of the museum. The hosts collected the seeds brought by guests, organized them into categories and then ceremoniously opened the swap about an hour after the scheduled start of the event. The table area where the seeds were displayed was unfortunately small for the number of guests – hopefully they will expand with at least one more table and spread things out a bit more for next year.
Everyone is so friendly and enthusiastic at the seed swap. My mother came with me and as we strolled around waiting for the seed release, we visited with Ilene who hosted the table for the Ocean County Historical Society. My friend and fellow naturalist Irene was attending the table for the Ocean County Soil Conservation District who brought lots of literature and resources to share as well as free seed packets of wild flowers! We visited with Becky from Wild Spaces by Becky – a native landscape designer who hosted a wreath building workshop before the seed swap event. Pam was there with Endangered Wings and her lovely table displayed educational information about monarch butterflies, hand made jewelry and seed bon bons! These are seed balls made with paper mache, a different color for each plant variety, and arranged together like a box of chocolates! Garden in a box! It’s such a great idea for a really easy garden and an adorable gift idea. The Little Plant Company was another vendor at the event and I spent some time chatting with Jason and Kelly Austin who run this native plant nursery, landscape design and home grown floral design company out of their residential home and yard in Pine Beach, New Jersey. I picked up a lovingly used book they had for sale about perennial herbaceous plants and I’m so pleased that I can add this to my treasured garden library.
The following is the haul I brought back from both exchanges combined. Keep in mind that I have an EXTENSIVE seed collection, but I didn’t have any of these yet (except for the green beans which were handed to me by a friend). I’ll stratify the button bush and try planting them in the cold frame in March. The tomatoes I picked out are large varieties and I’ve spent the last couple of years growing cherries and grape tomatoes. I’m looking forward to some larger slicing ones in the garden! The wildflower seeds will be broadcast over the meadowstrip in the front yard to help fill in that space with blooms.
I’m inspired and content and, as expected, anticipating the new growing season! Good luck, God bless you and your Garden! May your seeds germinate and your harvest be abundant!