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Hitting the seed market

5th annual Seed Swap held at Robinwood Station


As the Robinwood Community Garden has continued to grow in recent years, it is fitting that the annual “Seed Swap” is now one of the garden’s signature events.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: LISA CLIFTON - The Seed Swap has become a popular event over the years, as residents not only pick up new seeds but also build communal bonds.

The fifth annual Seed Swap took place Sunday, Feb. 21, as residents from around the Portland metro area stopped by to exchange seeds with fellow gardeners, free of charge. The Seed Swap was one of the first events to be created when work at the garden began in earnest in 2012, according to organizer Lisa Clifton.

“People who garden end up with a lot of extra seeds,” Clifton said. “So the concept is to re-distribute the seeds.”

Beyond offering a chance to pass along extras, the event is also a forum for those who deliberately save some of their best seeds to share with others. “If you save the best ones, the best plants, then you can be improving the (plant) variety specifically for this region,” Clifton said. “That’s kind of how heirloom seeds have stayed around.”

And for beginning gardeners, the Seed Swap acts as something of a jump-off point.

“It gets them a chance to talk to people who are excited about gardening,” Clifton said. “(They) gain knowledge and get some free seeds to get them on their way.”

That welcoming spirit for experts and novices alike falls under the broader umbrella of community building — a particular focus for Clifton and other members of the Friends of Robinwood Station (FORS).

“It’s a really big thing to me,” Clifton said. “I think it’s important to build connections in the community, and anytime you have things like this that get people together, you can start to form those connections.”

There are just two rules at the Seed Swap: take no more than half of what is in each packet — “so ideally there will always be something for somebody,” Clifton said — and, most importantly, to have fun.

For those who missed the Seed Swap, Clifton noted that the West Linn Public Library also has a “seed library” open all year.

“The seed library is set up all year long for people to go and get seeds,” Clifton said. “And they do hope people will return some seeds. They need people to give them seeds to keep it going there.”

To learn more, visit westlinnoregon.gov/library/seed-library.

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SUBMITTED PHOTO: LISA CLIFTON - Seeds offered ranged from flowers to vegetables and herbs. Each person was asked to take no more than half of what was in the bag.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: LISA CLIFTON - Anyone was welcome, including garden amateurs who didnt have any seeds.