Sarah and Ange from Seeds to Feeds chat with us about sharing seeds and swapping crops with your community.

Q: Kia ora Sarah and Ange! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Seeds to Feeds, and your neighbourhood? 

Kia ora, Seeds to Feeds is a network of communities that host local activities that create connections through kai. We support these community groups in gardening and cooking workshops or working bees and work with them to create and host a Harvest celebration as part of our month-long Harvest Festival in March each year. Ange is one of our founders whose kaupapa is based in strong community values, Sarah is the kaitiaki of Seeds to Feeds, supporting the community through coordination, logistics and any other places they might need help. We work with many different neighbourhoods and have been welcomed so warmly into each and every one. They all are part of the diverse nature of Te Whanganui a Tara.

Q: Sharing seeds and crops is a cool way to bring a community together. Can you share more about that?

We host regular Seed and Seedling Swaps across the city, these are generally co-hosted with people and places of each community. They're a great space for people to come together, to meet like-minded growers regardless of skill level, to learn or to troubleshoot their gardening woes. We often hold the space, but see that the conversation and support comes from those who have come along, rather than us. We often do this in spaces where people can garden at the same time and find that people talked more easily with “strangers” when they are sharing in some mahi or some learning. 

Q: Is this a seasonal thing, or can you do it all year round?

We see these, now, as a year-round activity. Previously we’ve held these in spring but are changing that this season. Growing kai doesn’t stop because the weather gets cold, it means we’ll just be taking the swaps indoors. We love to see a year-round next work of seed and seedling swaps so people feel more supported and encouraged to grow year-round.

Q: Getting people involved can be a bit of a challenge. Any tips on how to encourage participation?

This can be tricky for sure. Facebook groups are a great way to invite people along, there are a lot of garden-focused ones especially. We try to always position ourselves in a place where there is foot traffic or a park or something like that. Our most successful ones are when a host or I have stood on the street or wandered into a playground and invited people to come and help themselves. We are lucky that Ange raises A LOT of seedlings, this means we always have so much to give away, making sure people know they can just come, have a chat and take something home without bringing something to “swap” is important. 

Q: Do you have to be an experienced gardener to organise one?

Absolutely NOT. I am not an experienced gardener and I host many of them. As long as you are comfortable talking to people and making them feel welcome (having a cake to share is an easy way to do this), anyone can host one. 

Q: What kind of venue or space works best?

Anything works, though ideally public-facing and accessible. One of our favourite places to host swaps is in libraries, (put a tarp down), schools, parks, and community gardens are great. We’ve also hosted them in car parks, shops and restaurants. 

Q: What's the main goal of organising these events?

For us it is having a space for community conversation, usually garden-focused but not always. It’s also to give people the confidence to try growing their own food or raising seedlings from seed. It’s all part of food security and food sovereignty.

Q: Have you run into any challenges when putting these events together?

Not really, we keep the format very simple, a table or 2, usually cake, some flyers for other Seeds to Feeds events, and occasionally simple growing information. We have a “seed bank” a box of seeds that is constantly changing, it’s good to have a stash to start with, and the seedlings that Ange raises. Other than that it’s just about being welcoming and friendly.

Q:  If you could offer one piece of advice to someone thinking about organising a community event like this, what would it be?

Keep it simple, you don’t need to do too much, start small, work out what your capacity is and go from there. If you start by doing too much it can become stressful and then that’s not enjoyable. Have fun! 

Q: Anything else you want to share…

If anyone is thinking of hosting something like this in their neighbourhood and doesn’t know where to start get in touch. There also is a NZ-wide organisation called Crop Swap ( they have loads of helpful things to help you get set up to run a crop swap and these are a great community builder. 

Thank you!! 

Seeds to Feeds aims to harness the power of local food experiences to connect people - to each other, themselves, and their place.