Gardening

Are Seed Swaps Safe During Covid

If you are part of organizing a seed exchange or would like to participate in one, you are probably wondering how to have a safe seed swap. Like any other activity in this pandemic year, planning is key to ensure everyone is socially distanced and stays healthy. Group activities like seed swaps will have to be scaled down and may even go to mail order status or online ordering. Don’t despair, you will still be able to exchange seeds and plants with other avid growers.

How to Have a Safe Seed Swap

Many garden clubs, learning institutions, and other groups have annual plant and seed swaps. Are seed swaps safe to attend? In this year, 2021, there will have to be a different approach to such events. A safe Covid seed exchange will take planning, placing safety protocols in place and organizing special steps to ensure a social distance seed swap.  

Organizers of seed exchanges will have their work cut out for them. Usually, volunteers sort and catalog seed, then package and date them for the event. That means lots of people in a room together getting ready, which is not a safe activity in this troubling time. Much of this work can instead be done at people’s homes and then dropped off at the site of the exchange. The events can be held outdoors, and appointments made to minimize contact. Due to work restrictions, many families are facing food insecurity and it is important that such swaps take place to give folks seed to grow their own food. 

Other Tips on a Covid Safe Seed Swap

Much of the trading can be done online by setting up a database and having people sign up for the seed or plants they want. Items can then be placed outside, quarantined for the night, and a social distanced seed swap takes place the next day. Everyone involved should wear masks, have hand sanitizer and gloves, and take their order promptly without any dilly dally. 

Unfortunately, a Covid safe seed exchange in today’s climate will not have the fun, party atmosphere it has in prior years. Additionally, it would be a good idea to set up appointments with venders and seed seekers so no more than a few people are in the area at the same time. Alternately, have people wait in their cars until a volunteer gives them the signal that it is their turn to pick up. 

Keeping It Safe

A Covid safe seed swap should be confined to the outdoors. Avoid going into outbuildings and if you have to, use sanitizer, and wear your mask. For hosts of the event, have people available to wipe down door handles and sanitize bathrooms. These events should not offer any food or drink and should encourage attendees to get their order and head home. A tip sheet for quarantining the seed packets and plants should be included in the order. 

Volunteers need to be available to minimize crowding and keep things orderly and safe. Have hand sanitizer readily available and post signage requiring masks. It will take a bit more effort but these important and looked forward to events can still occur. Now more than ever, we really need these little activities for our mental and physical health. 

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