|Searching for that plant treasure|
A friend on Facebook asked me if I could help her with how to go about organizing a plant swap. It's really pretty easy but there are some basic things that really help to make these events go a little smoother and make them more fun.
First let me say that plant swaps are absolutely a blast and if you garden and have never been to one you are missing out. They are a great way to connect with other gardeners and get free plants and seeds in the process. At my swaps I have even encouraged gardeners who are brand new to gardening to just come and see what they can learn and find to take home to help build their gardens. It's amazing the blessing this is to them and to the experienced gardeners who get to help invest in their success.
|One of the hardest decisions...which seeds to take home|
THE HOST'S RESPONSIBILTIES
- Decide what to call the event: I like "Gardener's Swap" better than plant swap because to me it says more than plants will be swapped that day but "Plant Swap" works too. (see below for what to bring ideas)
- Do you want a theme? Themes can be fun especially if it is a pot luck. Me, I just like getting folks together and am not big on adding a theme and the extra work involved that might mean so I don't bother with one.
- Set a date and time: Spring and fall are the best seasons to host a swap. Weekend swaps are most common though you could do one in the evening too. Be sure you set a time frame for the swap...4 hours is good though an evening swap might only go two or three hours at most. Or have a one hour "Gardening Madness Swap". It's up to you.
- Get the word out - Yahoo Groups, Gardenweb, Dave's Garden and groups on Facebook are just a few places online to promote your swap. Community bulletin boards, local news papers, word of mouth and even local broadcast news community events calendars are places you can post swaps. (some restrictions may apply) You can also send out old fashioned invitations too. It's still fun when we get a party invite after all.
- PR Notice or invitation - Include the following: Name of the event, date, time, place, if it is potluck or if food is provided, basic guidelines (simple version), an RSVP request if a closed event and CONTACT INFORMATION for more information.
- Where to hold the event - I recommend you host it at your own home if you have the space. Keep in mind you will need space for everyone to set up what they have brought and you will need space for them to sit and rest and also visit a spell (we gardeners are great at this). If you don't have room, ask a friend who gardens if they might want to have one at their house with your help.
- Restroom - It goes without saying that people will need to use the toilet so be sure it is available to them. (Yes I went to one once where there wasn't one available, had to leave and had to go far enough to find one I never went back...sad sad sad.)
- Weather Concerns - Be sure to have a place for people to get out of the hot sun or out of the rain if need be or even to warm up if it is chilly. We have an "Autoshade" tent, one of these tents you can park a car under, that we pop up for shade and/or rain protection that works well for swap event and under a tent is a great place to have some tables and chairs set up for when people need to sit a spell.
|Under the big top where we swapped seeds and ate pot luck|
- Plan for refreshments or a potluck - Gardeners LOVE to get together and eat when they swap so ask swappers to bring food to share or if you are up to it provide the food yourself. It can be lunch, dinner or snacks. Be sure there is at least something for swappers to drink like water, coffee, tea or soda pop. (Include this info in your announcement.)
|The guys getting ready to barbeque burgers and brauts|
- Designated Swap Area Set-up - Most swaps are set up with everyone's things kept in their own separate little space. You don't have to provide tables though it is nice if you have them to provide. Seeds are usually set up on a table under cover with extra envelopes so people can take a bit of this or that seed home with them.
|The main swap area out and cruising swappers|
- Set up a "Pre-Swap Trades" area. This area is for any swaps that people planned ahead of time and lets everyone else know the plants are off limits unless their name is on them.
- Have Name Tags - We love to hate them but at swaps they are very handy since you will have a lot of strangers meeting each other for the first time.
- Provide extra tags and marking pens - They don't have to be fancy just whatever you have that people can mark their plants with should they need to...and someone always needs to.
Provide Basic Swap Event Guidelines for Participants
This will keep everyone on the same page (hopefully) as to what is expected of them and what you will be providing for them.
- What to bring to swap: Plants, seeds, extra tools, planting containers, garden trellises, gardening magazines and books etc.
- What is NOT allowed: Invasive plants and chemicals. Both of these are troublesome to deal with...trust me. As far as the invasive plants if someone does bring one make it a teaching moment. It is surprising how many people don't know what plants are invasive and even against the law to transplant. (English Ivy is one such plant here.)
- Name tag in each plant (if possible) If they don't know what it is often someone at the swap will know.
- Pre-Swap Trades - These trades are set up prior to the event between swappers who will be attending so they can trade the day of the swap. This is a common practice in plant swapping communities and some of our best swapping is done this way.
|Next time I separate the promised plants out.|
- Have pre-swap trades marked with recipient's name before getting to the swap! This will save a ton of headaches. The last swap I attended I didn't do it and it caused me undo stress as swappers descended on my offerings and tried to lay claim to those promised plants. I felt bad having to tell them no too.
- Swap Etiquette - Most people will ask before taking a plant, which is common courteousy in swaps, but it is good to remind people of this as swapping creates so much excitement sometimes people forget to. Once everyone has gone around picking through everyone's plants and things begin to slow down you may want to announce that the swap is open for "take whatever is left".
|The host's swap offerings, plants and a tour|
As a long time gardener there have been times I have gone to swaps simply to get rid of excess plants and it was so much fun sitting back watching others enjoy their new found treasures. I highly recommend trying it sometimes.
Have fun and happy swapping!
Copyright © 2012 by Patty Hicks
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