On Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Moab’s Youth Garden Project will host its annual seed swap. Bring your leftover seed packets and plant clippings to share with community gardeners and house plant enthusiasts at 530 S. 400 East, where you’ll swap stories and seedlings ahead of planting season.
“The seed swap is just a really great opportunity for local gardeners, whether they’re experts or total newbies, to come together and share any seeds that they might have saved from the past season that are still viable,” said Emily Roberson, the outreach and development coordinator for YGP.
“It’s also a space to connect with other gardeners, share stories, and ask questions as people are starting to plan their gardens from the upcoming season.”
The annual event is hosted in conjunction with the Moab Garden Club, Resiliency Hub and Our Village Community Center.
Though the event usually features a potluck and some indoor activities, YGP has canceled the potluck and modified the event to take place only outside to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Attendees are encouraged to dress warmly and required to bring a face covering. Hot tea will also be provided.
Roberson still hopes that Moab’s plant-minded community members will come together safely to talk about their plant passions — planting advice, best practices and especially stories.
“It seems that more people got interested in gardening and having houseplants because of the pandemic. And I really hope that that enthusiasm continues into this year as well,” Roberson said. She also mentioned that the seed swap is often a welcoming community event for newcomers and longtime locals alike.
“This is a time of year when a lot of people are moving to Moab for the first time. For new people in town, the Seed Swap is a really great way to meet new people especially if you’re into gardening,” she continued.
As seed swap attendees bring their own leftover seed packets and plant clippings to the event, YGP staff will help categorize the different types of plants. One table will feature herbs and spices, another will hold fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers, and another will offer leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. An extra table is also reserved for any miscellaneous plants.
“It’s also fun because people bring really interesting seed varieties. It’s always exciting to see what there will be,” said Roberson, who noted that there were even garbanzo bean seed samples at last year’s swap. “There’s a pretty active houseplant community here in Moab as well.”
Many Moabites use the seed swap as an opportunity to start new houseplants, such as spider plants or succulents, while others may be looking to begin or add to a self-sufficient home garden. Attendees should bring an envelope, container or another vessel to take home new seedlings, as plant lovers often trade whole seed packets. Make sure to also label the seeds, clippings or packets that you will be swapping.
YGP’s seed swap will kick off a host of other spring activities for the organization. YGP was founded in 1996 with just one youth community service program, but the organization has now grown to serve over 1,000 youth each year and grow over 3,000 pounds of produce each season.
“Our mission is to grow food, kids and community,” said Roberson. “We do that through garden-based education programs and also by advocating for gardening, in general, as a wonderful thing to do for your own health and for community health.”
YGP has already hosted a “jamming and canning” workshop for high school students in partnership with BEACON Afterschool Program, and they are preparing for their online auction that will take place in mid-March. Local businesses, artists and other community members who are interested in donating items to be auctioned off can reach out to Roberson.
“This spring is going to look a lot different from the last because we know a little more about the virus, mask-wearing is more commonplace and more people are getting vaccinated. Our programs really get going here in the spring, and now we feel more comfortable,” Roberson said.
“Last year we had to cancel many programs that we can now go forward with this year. It’s going to be a much more exciting spring this year than it was last year at the Garden.”
YGP has also welcomed two new, full-time staff members: a Produce Manager and Farm Manager. Roberson and YGP’s other veteran staff have been busy getting the new recruits acquainted with the organization’s space and practices, as this year will be the first that YGP operates with five full-time staff.
“Getting them ready and set up for success for the season is a big thing,” said Roberson. “People often wonder what we do over the winter at the garden when nothing’s growing, but it’s still just as busy as ever. We’re planning and getting ready for everything that happens throughout the season.”
For Roberson, gardening is more than a casual hobby or pandemic coping mechanism; it’s a way to connect with others in the community for collective betterment.
“Everyone is better off when we work together. I think that gardening is just a really good example of that sort of community building,” she said.
Youth Garden Project’s annual seed swap will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at 530 S 400 E. Label your seed varieties and plant clippings before arriving. The event will take place entirely outdoors, so make sure to dress warmly. Masks are required.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Youth Garden Project (530 South 400 East, Moab)
More info at www.youthgardenproject.org