Bristol Seed Swap went postal in 2021

Thanks to everyone who joined in with Bristol Seed Swap 2021

We sent seeds out to:

307 individuals

10 community growing projects and schools

We also sent out 50 bundles of seed packs to each of 3 food banks in Bristol and Nailsea.

The three talks for 2021 are now on Youtube, just search for Bristol Seed Swap. Follow this link for details:  TALKS

Speakers: Liz Zorab, Sara Venn and Diane Holness.

Keeping in touch

We have a mailing list.

Details on future events - the next Seed Swap and any seed saving workshops or talks. Maybe a newsletter every 6 months.  Low traffic and informative, we certainly won't be flooding your inbox. 

Click this link to sign up.

Emails is for volunteers

whether you would like to get involved with organising Bristol Seed Swap, or would like to be a day volunteer for the next Swap in February 2022, use this address to get in touch. is for everything else:

for offers of seeds,

enquiries about having a stall at the '22 Swap

suggested collaborations

Contact details of our speakers if you'd like them to talk to your group

anything and everything else

By Post

The Po Box address is no longer valid, we only had it for the postal seed swap to deal with the large ammount of post, and to avoid putting our personal emails out online.

If you need to post us something we will give you an address via email, thanks.  

PayPal donations

We welcome donations, but they are entirely at your discretion and only if you can afford it.

If you are skint volunteering with the Seed Swap or learning how to save seeds for us is another way to 'give back'.

A Note on Donating Saved Seeds

Please be aware that most vegetables need your intervention and some planning to produce seeds that will breed true and produce strong plants. 


Left to pollinate naturally they are likely to cross with other varieties or similar crops.  For instance sprouts will cross with cabbage varieties and different varieties of pumpkin will cross with each other.


We need people to trust the seeds they get from Bristol Seed Swap: We don't want people to be put off growing food by poor or unpredictable crops, or for them to believe seed saving doesn't work.

Please don't donate seeds saved from F1 crops or from fruit or veg you bought - there is a strong possibility they are F1's - even if they are organic.

There is lots of good information on these sites:

Questions you need to ask;(copied from Real Seeds site)


  • Will these plants cross with any others?

  • Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? (Usually bad)

  • How does this happen? (Wind? Insects?)

  • What can I do to control this? Do I need to do anything?


  • Do I need a minimum number to get healthy seed? (e.g. do they breed as group?)

  • Or do the plants live on their own and self-pollinate? (so I can save seed from just a few?)

  • Have I chosen the best plants for seed?


  • Do I need to do anything special to the seed ?

  • Is my seed well dried and well labelled?

The answers are different for each vegetable.

Seeds for Swapping

Looking forward to this Seed Swap, we have absolutely no seeds to start off with as we sent them out at the start of lockdown to help people who couldn't get seeds. Because of the seed shortages this year we know seed companies will not be able to donate seeds as they have in the past.

So we would simply LOVE you wonderful people to donate seeds.  HOWEVER please only donate saved seeds if you are confident they will breed true.

Please be aware that most vegetables need human intervention and some planning to produce seeds that will breed true and produce strong plants.


If you have never done it before, the very easiest seeds to save are French beans, tomatoes, peas, wildflowers and lettuce because these almost always self pollinate, this means you can save seeds from plants you have grown as normal, nothing extra necessary. 

For everything else:

There is great info on these sites 

or see our seedy info page for lots of other links or suggested reading

Seedy info page


If you have already got into saving seeds, how about getting more adventurous and try trickier crops,  those that need some simple isolation from similar varieties by caging or bagging up flowers - squashes, cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins, chilies and peppers for instance.

Please shell beans and peas, remove seeds from seed heads and clean and dry them before packing.

We are happy to have excess seeds you bought or that came free on magazines etc.

Seeds that are a year or two out of date are fine if they have been stored in a cool dry place.

Labelling is also important, the seeds that get left behind at the end of the Swap are the ones with no variety names, or missing information on how they were saved.  Once you get into finding out about seeds you realise there are things you need to know about seeds saving - how to avoid  accidental crosses between varieties, how to keep strains strong and how to look after seeds well. This makes people wary of packets with vague labels.


What not to donate 

Please do not be tempted to bring along seeds taken from fruit or veg you have bought.


It is quite likely to be an F1 Hybrid variety, (even if it is organic). These are productive plants, that are bred to be good for commercial production, mass harvesting and transportation - but whatever their good qualities, they do not breed true to type. Plants grown from their seeds will be an odd and varied bunch, some good, some a waste of space. We want predictable seeds, so no-one wastes time and space, we would hate anyone to be put off growing by bad results.

Even if you know the variety, and it is a heritage or open pollinated one, there is a good chance that it will have crossed with other varieties grown in the area. 

Please do not donate self saved seeds which may have crossed with other varieties, we want seeds from the Bristol Seed Swap to be as trustworthy an bought seeds and we really hope you will be as fascinated as us to learn about how to take on this aspect of gardening.

Frequently asked questions for the Seed Swap

When is the next Bristol Seed Swap?

We expect to run the Seed Swap as a live event again next year, put Sunday #February 13th in your diaries now!!!

We Loved the Trinity Centre as a venue and hope to be able to book it again, we will confirm details as we have them.

Are the seeds free?

Yes! We want as many people as possible to grow food and to get into gardening generally. Money should be no barrier to doing so. 

Give what you can - take what you need.

Donations of seeds or money for seeds are welcome if you can afford it - it is entirely at your discretion, no one is going to ask you about it.

How should I pack seeds?

We would appreciate seed donors cleaning seeds as far as possible and packing them in envelopes in the kind of portion a gardener would want.

Whole sunflower heads, unshelled beans etc make it time consuming for our volunteers to process and pack the seeds and they may go to waste.​

If you have lots of seeds to donate it would be helpful to have them before the day of the Swap, drop us a line via and we can see if we can collect them ahead of the event. 

How should I label seeds?

Please label the seeds with variety, specific names and the year they were harvested if you know it.

If you can also give details of how they were saved, or if they were bought it will allow people to judge if they will breed true.

and if  you have any stories about what the plants mean to you - is this your Gran's favourite, did it crop wonderfully for you etc etc. people love to hear about it. 

What can I expect at a Live seed Swap?

Talks, on seed saving, gardening and related topics.

Stalls selling plants, seeds, 'green' goods and promoting organisations with a growing or ethical theme.

A kids area where there will be a range of child friendly garden themed activities.

A WONDERFUL pop-up cafe serving fabulous food and drinks,

Information about local growing projects, and how to get growing.

Lots of friendly and happy volunteers and visitors,

And of course - THE SEED TABLES where you can browse to select the seeds you need.