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Using the Exchange

How to request seeds from other participants in the Exchange


Anyone can browse seeds that are offered in the Exchange, but you need an account to request or list seeds. If you haven’t registered, join here.


Step 1: Sign in with the email address and password you selected when you registered on this site.

If you have forgotten your password, click here. A link to reset your password will be sent to your email address. 


Step 2: Find seeds, request, or add them to your Wishlist.

From the home page, select Start Searching Seeds to browse seeds offered by other participants in the Exchange. You can browse by plant type, variety, a variety of modifiers, and region in the navigation. You can also use the search box located near the top of the page.

Once you find the varieties you want to request you can click the “Request” button, or you may choose to click “Add to Wish List.”

Your Wishlist is not an order but a record of the seeds that you are interested in requesting. 


Step 3: Create requests and send payment

View your Wishlist (link is at the very top of the page under “My Account”). Check the boxes next to the varieties you’d like to request and then click “Request” and you’ll be taken to your request page. Requests are organized by lister. You can request more than one variety from a single lister, but each lister you request from will create a separate request form. At this point, it’s a good idea to review the profile page of each individual you plan to request seeds from. Some listers have specific instructions about what types of requests (mail, email, or phone) and payment (cash, check, PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, etc.) they accept.


Click the “Request Now” button. Next you will need to fill out your shipping information, select the payment method, and have the option to include a note to the lister. Click “Request Seeds”


Download a blank request form to fill out by hand


Print and send the completed request form to the lister according to their preferences. Be sure to include proper payment with your request. Remember that some listers will only accept seed requests that are mailed to them, while others may wish to be contacted by phone or email regarding a request. Be sure to give the lister your contact information and mailing address along with your request and payment so they know where to send your seeds.


If a lister has an email address or phone number in their profile, you may wish to contact the lister by phone or email regarding your request.


Once your request and payment are received by the lister, you should expect to receive your seeds within two (2) weeks. Please allow extra time for international shipments. Refer to the ‘Shipping and Handling’ section of the Community Guidelines, for more shipping and handling information.

How to offer seeds



Offering seeds to other gardeners is a fantastic way to participate in our work to protect rare and heirloom seeds. Before you get started, please review the listing guidelines (on the Community Policies tab of this page). Note that you may add new listings or change old ones any time of the year. To appear in the annual print edition of the Exchange (called the Yearbook) for the following year, you must list your seeds online by November 15.


Step 1: Sign in to your account

Sign in with the email address and password you selected when you registered on this site. If you forgot your password, click “Forgot Password”. A link to reset your password will be sent to your email address. If you haven’t registered, join here.


Step 2: Create or update your profile

From the "My Account" dropdown in the header, click “My Profile”. Click “Edit Profile” on the left to tell other Exchange users about yourself, your garden, the seeds you are offering, and your preferences for receiving requests. You should add your contact information and rank your preferred forms of payment. Order instructions that are entered in the Lister's Order Instructions field will appear when users create a request or view your listings page.


Add a physical address, phone number, and/or email address. To receive requests for your seeds, requestors will need a way to contact you, which is why this information is required. You have the ability to adjust your privacy settings and can choose what information is shown online to Exchange users and in the Yearbook (the annual print edition of the Exchange).


Step 3: List Your Seeds

From the "My Account" dropdown in the header, click “My Listings”. Click the “Create Listing” button, then fill out the details of the seed you are offering. In your description, include things like growth habits, appearance, flavor, and history. Next you will be able to add up to five photos to your listing. Once all information is entered, click “Save Listing.” Clicking “Save Listing” completes the process and your listing will appear online immediately. 

Listing well-documented varieties is incredibly important to maintaining the integrity of the Exchange. Including 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 preservation of unique varieties. If you believe you have a unique variety, it is very important to preserve that seed and its story. Take the time to learn the history of the variety, and include that history in your listing.


Listers can share non-patented vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, spices and grains through the Exchange. Please adhere to the listing guidelines.


How to re-offer seeds


When you list a variety, the listing is active for one year unless you customize the expiration date. You can easily offer the same seeds year after year by updating your listing's expiration date, or by checking the listing under “Inactive/Expired”. After selecting what varieties you’d like to re-offer, click ‘Mark Active.’ This will update the expiration date for those listings to one year from the execution date.


If you wish to mark a listing as inactive (expired), select the variety and click “Mark Inactive”. This will update the expiration date to today’s date, and therefore make the listing unavailable.

Fulfilling a request


Fill seed requests as you receive them from other Exchange participants. We encourage listers to fulfill seed requests within two (2) weeks of receiving payment. If you accept PayPal payment, PayPal recommends fulfilling orders within seven (7) days (while allowing extra time for international shipments).

Community Policies

We are glad you are participating in Seed Savers Exchange’s mission to preserve crop diversity by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants. To ensure this community remains vibrant, useful, and effective, we require all Exchange users to abide by the following.


Listing guidelines

Any infraction of these guidelines can result in your listings and account being deactivated by Seed Savers Exchange administration.

  • List only open-pollinated seeds.
  • Do not list genetically engineered plants, F1 hybrids, poisonous, noxious, or controlled seeds and plants.
  • Do not list any seeds or plants that are considered illegal, either federally in the United States of America or in the state of Iowa.
  • Crossed varieties or potentially crossed varieties should not be listed. Unstable varieties should not be listed until they are stabilized.
  • Grow all seeds out yourself before offering. You may not immediately divide and re-offer seeds received from Exchange users that you have not yet grown yourself.
  • Do not list patented varieties. Although it is legal for gardeners to grow and save patented varieties, it is illegal to distribute them. Refer to the USDA website for a list of patented varieties.
  • Do not list unknown seed from volunteer plants.
  • If a variety name is known, do not deliberately rename a variety.


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


Listers that wish to only offer seeds to participants who will commit to growing those seeds and offering them again in the future should say so in their listing descriptions. While we hope that requesters will honor that wish, it is up to the individuals involved to make that determination.


Sample Sizes

Participants in the Exchange are providing a small seed sample, not a commercial-sized packet. We encourage you to share enough seeds to preserve the genetic diversity of each variety. Reference this guide for crop type-by-crop type seed saving recommendations from The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Saving Seeds. The minimum amount of propagative material you can expect to receive per sample from Heritage Farm is:

  • Seeds - At least 25 seeds. Exceptions are corn (at least 200 seeds) and seed-propagated Alliums and Umbels (at least 60 seeds)
  • Tubers - Four medium-sized tubers for potatoes and other crops
  • Garlic Bulbs - At least two whole garlic bulbs
  • Scions - At least two scions, 8” long, each with four buds
  • Plants - From two to four plants, depending on size


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


Use this chart to find out which seed classification (small seed, large seed, etc.) each plant type belongs to.

Please note in your profile if you are willing to ship outside the United States. If so, you may want to increase your international prices by $1. Similarly, if you are located outside the United States, you may want to increase the prices of your listings by $1 per item to cover the additional shipping and handling costs.


Seed Laws, Regulations, and Treaties

Some states prohibit the importation of scionwood and other live plant material. Many states have no restrictions at all. It is the responsibility of person requesting scionwood and other plant material to know what is prohibited in their state.


Users 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. It is illegal to send plants or cuttings between countries, even between the United States of America and Canada, without proper permits and certificates. Seed Savers Exchange cannot provide users with legal advice regarding such laws or how to comply with them.


The USDA requires that all seed sent into the United States be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. At $50 or more per certificate, that price can be prohibitive for small-scale gardeners. It is up to the individuals 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. You must follow the instructions laid out by the USDA regarding proper use of this permit.


Use of Contact Information

By using the Exchange, you agree to the Use of Contact Information conditions laid out in the Terms of Use.


Deadline for Requests

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


Policy Against Dividing and Re-Listing Seeds

You should not immediately divide and re-list samples of seeds obtained from the Exchange or the Yearbook. After being re-grown once, the resulting seeds, plants and produce are yours to use however you please. Violations of this rule should be reported to the Seed Savers Exchange office. Email or call 563.382.5990 if you need to report any problems you observe.


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 or call 563.382.5990 if you need to report any problems you have experienced with receiving seeds.