Chiswick Seed Swap

Seed swaps are a great way to encourage biodiversity, diversify your garden and a way to meet new people in your community. Apprentice Gardener Lauren Jennings tells us about our pilot seed swap in March.

What is a seed swap? 

Seed swapping is a fabulous way to encourage biodiversity and build community relationships in your local area. Seed swap events are great for established gardeners as well as those new to the hobby.

It involves the trading of heirloom (open pollinated) seeds or surplus seeds from shop-bought packets. It’s a chance to swap them for other types of seeds, stops you from hoarding unused seeds and helps spread the love of different varieties. It’s also a great way to save you money on buying lots of different seeds.

How are seed swaps beneficial? 

According to Garden Organic, a UK charity that maintains the Heritage Seed Library to preserve vegetable seeds and make them available to growers:

Swapping seeds is important for food security in terms of both plant diversity and conservation of varieties. It increases diversity as it encourages people to try out and grow more varieties, reducing the risk of depending on a small number of varieties. It is also important for conservation of more unusual varieties, as more people that grow it in a number of locations, the less likely it is to die out.

So importantly seed swaps help preserve seed heritage and make sure certain varieties don’t go into extinction. Seed saving is important for our current climate crisis. If we save seeds suited to our individual locations it makes for more resilient seeds to fight back from pests, disease and severe weather. 


Seeds, image by Gregor Petrikovič

Seed swapping at Chiswick House & Gardens 

We recently hosted a pilot seed swap for our volunteers and community groups to come together and swap precious seeds. People brought their own surplus seeds to swap with ours plus a selection that were kindly donated (see list of companies who donated seeds below). We hope that the seeds that were swapped will help to diversify what people grow in their own gardens and community spaces.

Sally Tillson, Community Gardens Manager at Cultivate London and her team of volunteers kindly brought along some red orach, amaranth and coriander seeds. We will be adding these to our seed banks and will be sowing some in our gardens this year.

How can you get involved in a seed swap? 

We’re hoping to run at least one seed swap a year. Watch this space!

In the meantime, you can find a seed swaps near you at

You can also create one yourself in your neighbourhood. Talk to a local community group and see if they want to get involved or even host one.


Special thanks to the companies who kindly donated in our seed swap- 

Suttons: Vegetable Seeds, Flowers & Bedding Plants Online | Suttons 

Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres | Hillier 

Buy Flower Seeds, Vegetable Seeds, Plants, Hanging Baskets | Chiltern Seeds 

Hardy Plant Society ( 

NB most seed swaps occur in February and March, marking the beginning of the seed sowing season.