National Seed Swap Day is celebrated on the last Saturday in January, which is January 27 this year, to honor the great U.S. tradition of swapping seeds with neighbors. The final week of January lays the chilly winds of winter to rest and signals the coming of spring — a season of cherry blossoms, outdoor picnics, and fresh plantations. As the plants and trees shed their final bounty, communities gather to plan for the next year of harvest. Mark this brand new season by swapping seeds and sharing warmth with your community on National Seed Swap Day.
History of National Seed Swap Day
On National Seed Swap Day, we reinvigorate our love for gardening by swapping seeds with our neighbors. It is a great day to remember that nature is our ultimate currency. The food we eat represents the lives we live. And when communities come together to exchange this valuable gift, we reaffirm our promises of mutual belonging and self-sustenance.
National Seed Swap Day was established by “Washington Gardener Magazine” editor, Kathy Jentz, who organized the first seed-swapping event in Washington, D.C., on January 26, 2006. The success of the event inspired other states to join and, in the following weeks, the final Saturday of January was officially declared as National Seed Swap Day. But this tradition goes back further than 2006.
The seed barter is a thousand-year-old practice. Traders carried seeds with them as they traveled across the globe, and established connections with foreigners by exchanging each other’s precious collect. Some of the most popular U.S. grains, fruits, and vegetables were brought to us by European and Dutch colonizers.
Swapping seeds is essential to our biodiversity, and it popularized the practice of gardening. The love for home gardens and urban farming has been on the rise since the 2000s, as people began delving into the trend of organic consumption and ethical harvesting. More than half of metropolitan families and suburban dwellers maintain a garden in America and spend billions of dollars in the pursuit of gardening.
This National Seed Swap Day, share your love of gardening with the world and give your gardens the promise of a new tomorrow.
National Seed Swap Day timeline
American colonists build dooryard gardens in enclosed settings to grow medicinal herbs and essential edibles.
Garden owners shift from harvesting herbs and edibles to ornamental plants rich in color and beauty.
Roosevelt urges U.S. households to build home gardens to combat food shortages in the wake of World War II.
The love for fresh garden produce sees tremendous growth, and a new wave of gardening sweeps across U.S. households.
National Seed Swap Day FAQs
Is seed swapping legal?
It is legal to swap seeds in just four of the 50 states of America. The Federal Seed Act, enforced by the Department of Agriculture, restricts the non-commercial distribution of seeds unless they are tested, labeled, and permitted, per the industrial regulations.
Can gardening relieve stress?
There are many benefits of gardening, and stress relief is one of them. Gardening involves a decent amount of cardio, which releases endorphins in your body. It also reduces tension and stress, as it elevates your mood.
Can gardening be a profitable business?
You can make a living from selling produce from your garden, but the profit margins are often insignificant. The costs of pesticides, the risks of a failed batch, and competition from national chains are all things that must be considered before you embark on this venture.
National Seed Swap Day Activities
Organize a seed swap event
Seems obvious; sounds easy? It actually isn’t. Collecting exotic and lesser-known seeds and finding the right exchange for them is difficult, but we still want you to give it a try. Don’t forget to involve your whole community in this event.
Mail seeds to distant relatives
Seed swapping is all about promoting biodiversity across the U.S. Pick the plants and trees popular in your area and send them across to relatives who live on the other side of the country.
Take a gardening class
If you have never tried gardening and want to learn the basics of maintaining a garden, January is a great month to start. On National Seed Swap Day, sign up for a gardening class. We promise you won’t regret it.
5 Facts About Gardening That’ll Fascinate You
It’s a billion-dollar industry
Americans spend more than $52 billion on gardening and lawn maintenance every year.
It’s in every second house now
Almost half of U.S. households have home gardens, and 35% of Americans grow food at home.
It’s good for your brain
Regular gardening lowers the risk of dementia by 36%.
Thanks, Michelle Obama
The former First Lady’s initiative, Let's Move, contributed immensely to the resurgence of household gardening in America.
It’s all about the veggies
More than 55% of people garden because they want fresh and high-quality vegetables.
Why We Love National Seed Swap Day
Half of all plant species are endangered
Out of the 28,265 internationally recognized species of plants, 13,000 are in danger of extinction. There is an acute need for campaigns that understand the gravity of the threat this poses to our ecosystems, and National Seed Swap Day does that.
Fresh veggies are a luxury
You can save yourself from harmful cultivation methods and industrial pesticides by monitoring the food you grow. But farming vegetables and fruits is an expensive venture that not many can take on.
Gardening is in fashion
Succulents and cacti saw a 25% boom in popularity, while other gardening-related commodities experienced a surge in sales by 10% in 2018. Millions of Americans have recently started buying plants.
National Seed Swap Day dates