You can get free seeds through the free services of Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and sharing heirloom seeds. The “Exchange” is a seed swap, where gardeners from around the country offer seeds they’ve grown (“homegrown seeds”). Anyone can browse seeds that are offered in the Exchange, but you need an account to request or list seeds. If you find seeds you want, request them from the grower through the Exchange and pay the grower the shipping & handling fee to cover their time and cost sending the seeds to you. If you have seeds to share, create an account at the Exchange and do so.
What is the Seed Exchange?
The Exchange is facilitated by Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and sharing heirloom seeds. The organization started with the sharing of seeds within a small group of people in 1975 and has continued to expand over the last 40+ years. The Exchange you findhere is a continuation of that tradition and facilitates the sharing and preservation of seeds amongst gardeners.
The organization maintains a Seed Bank containing over 25,000 varieties at their headquarters in Decorah, Iowa. Some of the varieties from the Bank are distributed in the Exchange and 600+ varieties are made commercially available to the public in the organization’s seed catalog. The revenue from the seed sales, aswell as donations and memberships, serve to maintain the organization”s collection and promote and encourage the tradition of saving and sharing seeds.
Shipping and Handling
The prices of seeds in the Exchange are meant to reimburse the lister for the cost of packing and shipping seeds. The seeds and plant materials exchanged on this platform are exchanged for free, in accordance with seed sharing laws. Listers are allowed to set their own prices for shipping seeds, so be sure to pay attention to the profile of each lister you request seeds from. If a lister has not set their own prices, please use the recommended prices:
- Small Seeds – $3.00
- Large Seeds and Biennials – $4.00
- Roots, Bulbs, Tubers, Cuttings and other Non-Seeds – $5.00
- International prices are often $1 per iten more expensive for S&H.