Seedy Penpals

Yesterday, Mel at Edible Things tweeted a link to a great idea for food bloggers and blog readers to get to know each other, by sending a lovely parcel in the mail every month. I re-tweeted the link to the US & UK schemes and soon got into a chat with Mel and Karen at Samphire Shop. Karen suggested that we should set up a similar scheme for seeds. It’s a brilliant idea and this blog post is about that.

In brief the Foodie scheme works like this:

  • Anyone that wants to take part signs up using a contact  form available on the host blog
  • Participants are then matched. It’s not a swap: so penpal A will send to penpal B; penpal B will send to penpal C.
  • Penpals send out thoughtful, food related parcels. The parcels can include home baked treats and/or shop bought treats (especially local or unusual things). The price limit for the boxes is £10.
  • Penpals open their boxes and rejoice!
  • At the end of the month, everyone blogs about their box, or writes a guest blog post if they are usually a blog reader and not writer. Everyone reads one another’s posts and rejoices some more. Posts are made available on the hosts’s blog.

The idea for the Seedy Penpals is that we do the same sort of thing with spare seeds. These could include you favourite commercial varieties, heirloom seeds and home-saved seeds. It’s a great way of discovering new things and making new friends.

We would like to see whether there are enough people interested in the idea to make it worthwhile. And we’d also like to find out how you think it should be run. So I’ve put together a little survey which we’d like you to complete. It’ll only take a couple of minutes, so please, please fill it in. There are 7 questions, so please scroll to the end.

UPDATE 9th July 2012:
I have closed the survey. We have had a great response. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, share the link with friends and tweet a link to this post.  Mel & I will discuss the results later this week and work out how to take things forward. I’ll post more in the very near future about Seedy Penpals.

UPDATE 11th July 2012:
Mel & I have now had a long discussion. We think this is a great project and we have started to work to make it happen. If you’d like to be updated by email when we have more news, please fill in the form below. Make sure you don’t miss out!

UPDATE 25th July 2012 – Time to launch
We’ve done it! Seedy Penpals is now ready to go.

Let’s get Seedy!

Seedy Penpals Small Badge



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23 responses to “Seedy Penpals”

  1. Emily Avatar

    Count me in and thanks for doing this, Carl!

  2. Joanna Avatar

    I would like to play 🙂

  3. The Constant Gardener Avatar

    Count me in! Just did the survey and I think it all needs to be as easy-come as possible, other than that I can’t think of anything nicer than giving/receiving a little parcel of seeds through the post! Bit like a Secret Santa only you don’t have to wait till Christmas…

  4. Janet Avatar

    What a great idea. I can never use a whole packet of seeds and always collect too many from my own garden to be able to use them myself. Bring it on!

  5. Claire Avatar

    Hi there, I just came across here on a recommendatiion by RockSalt. Great idea!
    I’ve participated in seed swaps online before, through forums and they generally have worked really well. The best have been the seed savers swaps where x amount of people agree to sow and save seeds to be swapped around November time.
    I’d be interested to join in, I always have way too many seeds, and am always swapping on my allotment/ with friends. It’s a great way to try new things.
    One thing you may need to consider is how many you send in a parcel – some seeds are more precious than others – such as heritage varieties. But I’m sure some common sense could prevail 🙂

  6. Karen Avatar

    Its a great idea and would be fun to send/receive. Would people blog about what the seeds they receive? – would this need a bit of a time delay to see how they got on in different areas/conditions etc?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Karen, thanks very much. I think so about the blogging, pictures of the seed packets might get a bit boring 😉 So we need to come up with a good plan for blogging, any ideas?

  7. Suse Coon Avatar
    Suse Coon

    My daughter and I visited seed swaps this spring. The idea was to preserve non commercial varieties. Some of them worked better than others, possibly due to my growing conditions, possibly due to the fact that some of the seeds were several years old. (They were dated and no-one else was going to take them so I thought I’d give them a chance!)

    A few things to consider, some less important than others, but you can see I’m getting right into it!

    Do you always send to the same person and receive from the same person?
    Who matches the penpals and how?
    Is there an opportunity to ask if anyone wants something as you may be offering it when there is a ‘glut’ already? Does that spoil the surprise or prevent the ‘Oh no not more of X’ factor?
    Can you have more than one penpal?
    What happens if you feel you are getting or giving more or less than you are receiving? Or (horrors) if you don’t have anything at all to pass on when the time comes to swap?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Suse, here’s a few answers:

      Penpals will be re-allocated each time so that you get to give and receive from new people each time. You make more friends that way 🙂

      I will match the penpals and then email out the pairings.

      Yes, just like the Foodie scheme, I will draft a sample email which will help people ask helpful questions. I think the element of surprise will remain.

      If you wanted more than one penpal, I think that you’d need to use a second email address otherwise it would get very complex for me to administer.

      You can always opt-out of an exchange if you give notice or withdraw completely if it’s not useful for you.

      Hope those answers help 🙂

  8. Carol Anne @ Rock Salt Avatar

    Thanks for the link! This is a lovely idea, and my very first bit of advice would be just to go for it and get started, even if you only have a few people the first month. Mel dropped me an email to ask for a bit more info on the Foodie Penpals process and I’ll be replying as soon as I get the chance with whatever scraps of wisdom I can think of 🙂

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Carol Ann, we’re so glad you like the idea and we’re very grateful for your support 🙂

  9. Joan Avatar

    My sis runs the foodie penpal scheme and it works really well! So yeah, I think this is a great idea. Count me in!

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Joan, as you can see Carol Ann has made contact and we’re now in email contact too. Thanks for the support 🙂

  10. Claire Doore Avatar
    Claire Doore

    Such a great idea. Could include home-collected seeds as well as bought ones, I always have spares in my seed box.

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Claire, I certainly had in mind home saved seeds being included. Such a good way of conserving heritage varieties too 🙂

  11. Lorraine Pullen Avatar

    Cant think of anything nicer than opening an envelope of mystery seeds.. hope it works

  12. Elaine Avatar

    Hi Carl, Your always a man with great ideas! Well done.

  13. Lynne Milligan Avatar
    Lynne Milligan

    Fab, idea. Love the idea of a swap & the bonus of good old fashioned letter / post.

  14. Euan Avatar

    Like it. My other hat (apart from the baking one) is as a keen amateur gardener.

  15. Andy Wright Avatar

    I’m up for that 😉

  16. kath Avatar

    Sounds good.

  17. Helen/patientgardener Avatar

    Think this is a fab idea as have lots of duplicates plus left over collected from garden – very interested.

  18. Ian Avatar

    Fantastic idea be great to grow a wider variety of plants bot edible and other.