Valley-Wide Seed Swap and Growers Resource/Skill-Sharing Event

Today Robin Kelson from the Good Seed Company is here to share with us about a new seed swap activity going on in our local Montana valley where gardeners can learn new skills, get some local seeds, share some local knowledge and make some new connections!


Support building community resiliency around food through:

An annual valley-wide seed swap and growers resource/skill-sharing event with the idea of supporting both new and experienced gardeners, and new and experienced seed savers.

The idea is to reduce the barriers to entry for anyone who is interested in taking greater ownership of their food by

  • getting access to good healthy food
  • learning how to grow their own food
  • learning how to save the seeds
  • gaining access to a wide variety of open-pollinated non-GMO seeds.

At whatever level of interest you have in it, the vision is that this event will have something for you.

The second part of this vision is that a larger, more permanent organization will literally grow out of this event as a non-profit community “guild” that realizes the vision through regular gatherings, information and skill-sharing, work-party co-ordination, workshops, and the like to help build community around the idea of resiliency and consistent and constant food supply.resiliency


The first annual “Valley-Wide Seed Swap and Growers Resource/Skill-Sharing Event”  will be held SATURDAY, March 19 @ FVCC, 10am-1pm (set up: 9-10am; tear-down 1-2pm). Completely FREE!


Location: FVCC Arts and Technology building • Kalispell, MT – Saturday, March 19, 10am-1pm and it’s completely FREE!!!

seed swap

Seed Swap:

Will be in the center of auditorium. Envelopes and pens for labeling will be provided. Public will be invited to bring untreated, open-pollinated seeds, whether saved or purchased.

20-30 Trade-Fair style “booths”

The objective is to bring together as many educational resources around growing food and seed saving as possible into one room.


We hope that the following groups will be represented:

  • local farmers
  • garden supply businesses
  • vermiculture that’s worm stuff
  • how to make a raised bed
  • how to clean your seed
  • how to save your seed
  • how to build soil
  • community gardens
  • seed libraries
  • food banks

Hopefully all of that will be represented. We have had great

beekeepers, farmers, garden/supply businesses, and organizations such as: AERO, CARE FARM, community gardens, seed libraries, food banks, SNAP etc.

Demonstration tables

Include: germination testing, seed starting, seed cleaning, soil building, vermiculture, etc.

Workshops (8-10):

Each 30-45 minutes, in surrounding classrooms. They will be introductory but there will be ways for people to get more information on:

  • beekeeping
  • fruit tree pruning
  • a kid-friendly workshop
  • soil web science
  • permaculture
  • plant propagation
  • seed saving
  • seed starting

There will be ample opportunity to swap and share seeds with others, and pick up some of your own.

Capstone conversation about a long term vision for a seed library to support building local plant biodiversity and community food resiliency by the larger community starting a repository.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I did talk with the amazing Bill McDorman in episode 100  who talked about seed saving and he really resonated with why that’s one of the best things we can do to save our planet and he talked about not worrying as much about Monsanto because if we save our own seeds and grow our own vegetables from our own seeds the need for their seeds will just fade away.

So my question will be if you don’t have any seeds should you bring money to buy seeds?

No you can just donate if you want to help offset some of the cost to creating the event or helping fund the seed library. It’s all free! A free event!


TUESDAY, Jan 19, 5PM @ The Good Seed Company Shop: Riverside Plaza, Suite 305, 100 Second Street East, Whitefish.  We are open to alternating future meetings between Whitefish and Kalispell (Natural Grocers) if that would assist the organizing committee members.

COMMUNICATION:  “Seed Swap and Growers Resource Event” – The Good Seed Company is managing all email correspondence for the Seed Swap event.  Direct emails to Robin Kelson at: or call or text 406-471-3284. Looking for lots of volunteers for lots of tasks!


  • Help us with event name! Submit ideas by next Tuesday’s meeting
  • Claim a booth space to represent your farm, business or cause
  • Teach a workshop
  • Join our organizing team (we are particularly in search of a Logistics Coordinator, Booth Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator)
  • Sponsor the event financially – the event will be free for the public to attend. Booth fees will be by donation.   Our anticipated costs will be $1,000, for promotion and other overhead. FVCC will be donating the space as an event co-sponsor.  We hope that businesses that may benefit financially by attending would consider supporting the event financially, in exchange for including your business name and/or logo on the poster, if possible.
  • Promote the event through your promotional/social media network
  • Send out the contact sheet when it’s complete!


Help us fill our volunteer needs.  Here’s a current list of tasks/jobs envisioned:

Before Event:

  • Hang Posters
  • Community Outreach
  • Help organize or volunteer on planning committee

At Event:

  • Be a Greeter
  • Help w/ Seed Demos
  • Logistics Crew
  • Set-Up/Tear Down
  • Workshop Crew
  • Event AV Geek (Audio-visual person to help with tech!!)
  • Rovers
  • Garden Info Resources any gardeners who can help answer questions.
  • Host a Kids Activity to engage children during the event
  • Help organize the library
  • Teach a workshop
  • Volunteer organizers

For example, when the plant closed in Columbia Falls, there is a gentleman who recycled a bunch of the aluminum that is building tools out of the recycled parts. So we want people to know about that opportunity when it gets off the ground. Want to help promote businesses who are working towards food resiliency in the community in many different ways. Letting people know if you are  bee-keeper or grow flowers or have a cool way to build worm bins it’s all part of the big picture and great networking!

There is still room and people are signing up!

I think it’s important to clarify that this is about building community around developing access to our own food supply and taking ownership of our own food supply and that includes growing our own food and saving our own open pollinated and non GMO seed. So that the goal is to build a resilient community that has a wide range of skills that can support each other in developing additional skills if we find we are defiicient in an area and also developing a wide variety of local adapted seed that can accommodate, the likely to occur climate changes and pest changes that will show up down the road.

Lentil Underground Book

Kind of reminds me of Liz Carlisle‘s book  Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America from episode 103 where they had garden clubs on the east side. Reminds me of starting our own garden clubs on this side maybe here so people will have more resources.

Now, Im confused don’t you have a seed library? Yes, well I an sponsoring one and this is part of that co-sponsorship. It will require more people then me. Im just the spark. I will certainly provide seeds for it. This is to let that spark fame and create the real fire!

Can you just explain what open pollinated seeds means?

It means that when you save open-pollinated seeds, the progeny will be the same type. So when you grow them, the plants will be the same as the seeds that you grew before. The opposite is called hybrid. So if you mix a red rose and a white rose you might get a pink rose. The next years generation, ti takes a couple of years for the genetics to settle out. You can’t get a

that the progeny will get good vegetables because you can

open pollinated means it’s been grown out enough for the genetics to

you’ll get tasty fruit

Heirloom seeds are simply open pollinated seeds that have been passed down by generations or

5 years or 50 years,

my grandmother grew this and she passed it to my mom and I’m gonna pass it to my daughter and I’m gonna save it and it’s a yellow bean!

Growing Sunflowers for the seed

I want to say Lisa Ziegler told me in episode 80 to grow Open Pollinated sunflowers but don’t quote me on that.

Trust that you can save those seeds.

In my world, what we will be doing is giving seeds away.  A seed swap is giving seeds away! FREE Seeds. You can come empty handed with the intention that ou will plant thise seeds and bring them back next year.

Then they can just donate if they feel guilty like I would. 

The other thing I would say is we’re getting the poster together, they can contact me if they would like me to contact or if they would like me to send an email. That will be where the specific info will be, I’d be happy to send to people if they just contact me.

Do you have a contact on your website?

I will post on my website.

You can go to or you can go to

I’m just very positive that its gonna snowball. There’s so much positive energy in the Valley and around Montana. IT’s great to see it embraced so fully.

It’s true I think people are learning and connecting more. It’s so important like here in Lincoln County they dropped the extension agent, so we have to go to Kalispell to take it and even if it’s only once a week it’s still a long drive.

Like my guest today Chris Blanchard, talks about soils and water. Mike and I who just got our bees, we will be excited to check out the bee keeping shop. Derinfitely on my show, the answer that is consistent on advice is talk to a local gardener so this will be a chance for people to connect with other gardeners. And to be able to connect with them after that. Or you might get an idea, someone who’s selling some weird specific thing down in Polson etc.

a great way to talk about other idea.s Plus we had so much fun at the AERO conference it might be like that!

It would be great to show 3 different ways to do the same thing.

I just love to see people’s creativity. They alway have this unique thing to add, there’s always some elegance to it. It will be fun to see that elegance in action.

And take it form an elegant lady.

I’ll let you know when the poster comes out. If ou wouldn’t mind when the poster comes out, sharing and letting people know they can get a copy of it in

We’ll put a copy on my website when you get it done. Ant to he link to the final and the link to your website if you get it up.

About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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