Getting Started

What is the Seed Exchange?
Homegrown Seeds
Commercially-Available Seeds
How to research commercially-available seeds
How to request homegrown seeds from other members
How to offer homegrown seeds
How to reoffer homegrown seeds
Guidelines for offering seeds

What is the Seed Exchange?

The Seed Exchange is our member-to-member seed swap, where gardeners from around the country offer homegrown seeds. It also includes information about the commercial availability of open-pollinated seeds in America. Anyone can browse ths Seed Exchange to read descriptions and view photos of fruits and vegetables offered by our members or American seed companies, but only our members can request seeds from other members.

Homegrown Seeds

Our members offer thousands of homegrown, heirloom and open-pollinated seeds to other members. They also offer potato tubers, garlic bulbs, apple tree cuttings, and other non-seed material for propagating new plants. This member-to-member seed exchange has been the backbone of our organization since 1975.

All of the seeds offered by our members are open-pollinated and non-hybrid - if you grow these seeds into mature plants, the plants will produce seeds that you can harvest and plant again next year. They are also non-patented, meaning that they can be grown, saved, and shared freely. Many, but not all, of our members offer organically-grown seed.

Commercially-Available Seeds

For the first time, the Seed Exchange also includes information about plants and non-hybrid seeds offered by American seed companies. Current descriptions and sources for non-hybrid seeds and plants offered commercially are gathered from our Directories of Non-Hybrid Seeds and Plants in the United States. Historic information about the commercial availability of non-hybrid seeds and plants, as well as variety descriptions have been gathered from our pastGarden Seed Inventories and Fruit, Berry, and Nut Inventories, edited by Kent Whealy, Joanne Thuente, and John Torgrimson.

How to research commercially-available seeds

From the home page, select Research Commercial Seeds to browse seeds that are offered by American seed companies. Navigate to a particular plant type or plant group using the left-hand navigation.

Alternatively, enter a search term into the search box located near the top of the page. Then, use the left-hand navigation within the search results to check the box 'Seeds from Companies'.

How to request homegrown seeds from other members

Anyone can browse seeds that are offered in the Seed Exchange, but only members can request seeds from other members. Not a member? Join today.

Step 1: Sign in to your account

Sign in using the email address and password associated with your online account - this is the same information that you use to log in to www.seedsavers.org, and the same information that you may have used to purchase a membership online.

Step 2: Find seeds and add them to your wishlist

From the home page, select Browse Homegrown Seeds to browse seeds that are offered by members. Navigate to a particular plant type or plant group using the left-hand navigation.

Alternatively, enter a search term into the search box located near the top of the page. Then, use the left-hand navigation within the search results to check the box 'Homegrown Seeds from Members'.

Click on a variety name to see all of the members who are currently offering seeds for that variety. Read through their descriptions, then click 'Add to Wishlist' when you'd like to request seeds from a particular member.

Step 3: Create requests and send payment

View your Wishlist by clicking the link in the topmost navigation bar. Select the varieties you'd like to request from other members using the checkboxes at the right of the table, then click 'Create Requests' to take you to your Requests page.

Requests are organized by members - one request to a member may include many varieties. Click the printer icon in the 'Action' column at the right of the table to generate a .pdf that you can print and mail along with payment to that member. When you click the printer icon, the request status will change to 'Printed'. Many of our members will only accept seed requests that are mailed to them.

If a member accepts online transactions, a PayPal icon will appear in the 'Action' column as well. Click this icon to start an online PayPal transaction.

How to offer homegrown seeds

Offering seeds to other members is a fantastic way to participate in our work to protect rare and heirloom seeds. Before you get started, learn how to save seeds and become familiar with our guidelines for offering seeds.

Step 1: Sign in to your account

Sign in using the email address and password associated with your online account - this is the same information that you use to log in to www.seedsavers.org, and the same information that you may have used to purchase a membership online.

Step 2: Create or update your profile

From your Account page, click Create/Edit Your Profile. Click 'Edit Information' in the left-hand profile section to tell other members about yourself, your garden, the seeds you are offering, and any special ordering information.

At the bottom of the left-hand profile section, add a physical address, phone number, and web addresses to help members get in touch with you. You can also select if you want your contact information to appear online, or in our print-format seed exchange (the Yearbook), or both. If you choose not to have any contact information printed, your seeds will not appear in the print-format Yearbook.

Step 3: Add homegrown seeds that you would like to offer

From your Account page, click Add/Edit Seed Listings. Click 'Add Listing', then fill out the details of the variety you'd like to offer. In your description, include things like growth habit, appearance, flavor, and history. Click 'Continue', then add a photo of your variety on the next page. Click 'Save' (even if you do not add a photo) to complete the process. Your new listing will appear online immediately.

Congratulations - you've just offered seeds to other members! Click the variety name in the list of seeds on your Profile page to see the finished entry.

Step 4: Fill seed requests

Fill seed requests as you receive them from other members, according to our guidelines.

How to reoffer homegrown seeds

When you offer a variety, that listing is good for one year. However, it is easy to offer seeds year-after-year with our Relist page.

Navigate to the Relist page, then use the checkboxes to select the varieties you'd like to reoffer. You can also use the 'Search' box to narrow the varieties you see by typing in a particular plant type or availability. When you are satisfied with your selection, choose an availability and click 'Relist'.

The Relist page can also be used to change the availability of many varieties at once.

How to add stories or recipes to a variety

Adding stories or recipes builds our knowledge of a particular variety, and allows users to access rich content like photos, videos, and articles.

Step 1: Sign in to your account

Sign in using the email address and password associated with your online account - this is the same information that you use to log in to www.seedsavers.org, and the same information that you may have used to purchase a membership online.

Step 2: Navigate to a variety page and click 'Add Story/Recipe'

Search or browse to find a variety you'd like to add a story or recipe to. Variety pages contain photos and descriptions from members and American seed companies. At the bottom of the page, click 'Add Story/Recipe'.

Step 3: Submit a story or recipe

Upload a photo for your story or recipe. In the text box, enter a story or recipe, or add links to articles, interviews, or videos related to the variety. When you're finished, click 'Submit'. We'll review your entry, and publish it if it is approved.

Guidelines for offering seeds

Listing well-documented varieties is incredibly important to maintaining the integrity of the Seed Exchange. Knowing the histories of the varieties is important for many reasons: it reduces duplication, prevents varieties from being incorrectly renamed, and allows for easier identification, and therefore preservation, of unique varieties.

Members can share non-patented vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, spices and grains through the Seed Exchange. Please adhere to the following guidelines for listing seeds in the Seed Exchange:

Our Seed Exchange is a place for gardeners to share seeds. Although members set prices to cover their costs of shipping and handling, the Seed Exchange is not a place for commercial distribution.

You may enter new listings or change old ones any time of the year. To appear in the print-format Yearbook for the following year, you must enter your seeds online by November 1.

Sample Sizes

Seed Savers Exchange’s Listed Members are providing a small seed lot, not commercial-sized packets. You may have to grow a sample once before having enough for an ordinary-sized garden crop. The minimum amount of material in a distribution is as follows:

Shipping and Handling

The price of seeds in the Seed Exchange are meant to reimburse members for the cost of packing and shipping seeds. Members are allowed to set their own prices for seeds, so be sure to check the individual listing for price details.

International Shipping and Handling

Requests that require seeds to cross international borders (except the US/Canada border) should add $1 to each item unless Listed Members state otherwise in their profile. Send concealed cash, not checks, or follow that member’s personal instructions. It is illegal to send plants or cuttings between countries, even between the US and Canada without proper permits and certificates.

Members requesting or distributing seeds that cross international borders are responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with the seed laws, regulations, and treaties of both countries. Unfortunately, Seed Savers Exchange cannot provide members with legal advice regarding such laws or how to comply with them.

The USDA has required that all seed being sent into the country be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. At $50 or more per certificate, that price is prohibitive for small-scale gardeners like most SSE members. It is up to the individual members involved in the transaction to decide who is responsible for paying that fee.

However, The USDA has a free Small Lots of Seed permit which allows the importation of up to 50 seeds of 50 different varieties per shipment, which is valid for three years. To apply for this permit, fill out PPQ form 587, which is available on the USDA website. A copy of the Import Permit needs to be included with the seed request, so it can accompany the seeds back into the US.

Dividing and Reselling Seeds

Members should not immediately divide and resell samples of seeds obtained from the Seed Exchange or any seed company. After being re-grown once, the resulting seeds, plants and produce are yours to use however you please.

Plant and Scionwood Restrictions

Some states prohibit the importation of scionwood and other live plant material. Many states have no restrictions at all. It is the responsibility of persons requesting scionwood to know what plant materials are prohibited.

Use of Contact Information

If members become aware of any type of abuse or misuse of the contact information made available through the Seed Exchange, please contact us immediately. The Seed Exchange has always been based on trust and selfless sharing; please help us keep it that way.

Deadline for Requests

Some listed members do not fill requests year-round, so check the member profile of the person listing the seeds to see if they have a published cut-off date before sending them your request and payment.

Problems Receiving Seeds

If you make a request and have problems receiving the seeds, please contact the Seed Savers Exchange office. We will help you obtain the seeds or, if a solution cannot be found, refund any money that has been lost. Email us or call 563.382.5990 if you need to report any problems you have experienced with receiving seeds.