If a seed exchange is something new for you, here's a little on what to expect and how to prepare.
At a seed exchange, people share seeds they have saved from their own garden. These seeds are usually free. Groups that support urban agriculture (think veggie plots in backyards and community gardens) join in with Canadian-sourced organic seeds for sale. You can come home with vegetable and flower seeds and information on cultivation.
Before you go, it's a good idea to 'learn the lingo'. These seed terms are relevant whether you attend a swap or purchase seed from a supplier.
The best resource for learning more about heritage seeds, seed conservation and exchanges, is the non-profit Seeds of Diversity, which encourages "the cultivation of heirloom and endangered varieties of food crops" through community events, membership and online seed sharing.
Open-pollinated ― This generally refers to "seeds that will 'breed true.' When the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate, or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety, the resulting seeds will produce plants roughly identical to their parents." (Wikipedia) These varieties retain a more diverse, stronger genetic heritage. Seed catalogues and packets will usually indicate if seeds are open-pollinated.
Hybrid seed ― This refers to the process of seed production. Hybrid seeds are "produced by parent plants that have been naturally or artificially cross-fertilized to create desired features in the offspring," according to Canadian Gardening. It is through this process that new cultivated varieties (or cultivars) are established. But as you may know, the seed from hybrid plants is frequently sterile if different species are crossed. They will not grow 'true to type' if they germinate and if they do, most often the plants revert to characteristics of their "grandparents." Gardeners wanting a particular hybrid will purchase fresh seed each year.
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