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Covid-Safe Seed Exchange Going Ahead

July 31, 2020
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Action stations! We’re delighted to announce that a Covid-safe seed exchange will be going ahead this year with a completely re-designed process.

The AGS Seed Exchange

The Alpine Garden Society seed exchange is famed for its grand scale, its impeccable timing and its huge range of desirable seeds that are swapped between members every single year.

The success of the seed exchange is in no small part down to the fabulous Diane Clement, who has been involved with the exchange for nearly two decades!

This year, of course, there’s a spanner in the works: Covid-19.

Why Does Covid Make Things Tricky?

Why is Covid a spanner? You might wonder.

The way the seed exchange is usually run involves lots of our members volunteering their time to gather together in groups sorting, alphabetising, packing, allocating and posting out seeds. We usually have over 80,000 donated packets of seed to process in a single year!

Of course, this year, gathering together in large groups to perform all of these essential jobs is not possible. Especially when you consider that many of our volunteers are in the vulnerable category. Hmmm.

Why Not Cancel the Seed Exchange?

Many other plant societies have decided to cancel their own seed exchanges. This is a perfectly understandable and reasonable decision in the current climate.

However, we are conscious of how much our seed exchange means to our members. They value it for the incredible array of rare and unusual varieties it enables them to grow from seed for next to nothing. So, our devoted team at headquarters have been working tirelessly with Diane Clement to try to figure out a way that some kind of seed exchange can take place this year.

And we think we’ve cracked it.

A New Design

In order to create a Covid-safe seed exchange this year, we need to make significant alterations to the way that members donate and receive seed. We will be relying heavily on technology to assist us with the donation, receipt and picking of orders.


Because if you can access the information on a computer, you don’t have to put yourself physically at risk. Bonus! This may not be welcome news for members who are not tech-savvy, but we have some ideas, so please bear with us while we develop them.

Of course, seeds are physical objects, so there will need to be some physical picking and posting of orders at some point. So, this year we will be relying heavily on the team at AGS headquarters to get your seed out to you. This makes sense because they are already working in the office so will not be putting themselves at risk.

We will also be taking a range of steps to ensure people can socially distance while picking orders at HQ. Again, the details are being worked out as we speak.

How Do I Partake in the Covid-Safe Seed Exchange?

For now, collect your seed as usual and sit tight. Importantly, do not post your seed anywhere.

Did we just put that in bold? That was rather stern of us, wasn’t it?! But there are good reasons for this, so to repeat: please don’t post any seed to anyone just yet.

We have a team of people buzzing away working out the ins and outs of running a Covid-safe seed exchange this year. As soon as we have parts of the process nailed down, we will communicate the details with you, so you know where you stand – and what to do with your seed!

We plan to make a fresh announcement in early September, so hang tight until then.

It’s certainly going to be a tricky year. But if we all pull together as a Society, we believe we can deliver a seed exchange that, while not quite as grand and impeccable as it has been, will be welcomed by many of our members.