Our Seed Swap has become so popular that programming has expanded to a full weekend.
Seed Starting Saturday
A weekend of adult courses, a family workshop, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank, and a film screening.
10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (SOLD OUT)
Take a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center with Dave Sollenberger, Seed Bank manager, and learn more about this crucial work. See the customized lab—including all the unique seed-prep equipment—and learn the multiple steps to seed banking from their arrival to long-term storage. Free (usual parking fees apply); preregistration required.
Hidden deep inside a massive mountain in inhospitable Spitsbergen, Norway, is the most important vault in the world: the Global Seed Vault. The “Doomsday Vault” as it is called, is the life’s work of the inspired American professor Cary Fowler. Its mission is to be a “backup” for as many of the world’s crops as possible, and a toolbox for seed breeders. Filmmaker Kees Brouwer travels the world to gain insights into the political and strategic game that is being played as shown in this 50-minute film, released in 2014. Free (usual parking fees apply); preregistration required.
Seed Swap Sunday
Attend the Sunday afternoon lecture at 1:30 p.m. and share and swap seeds with other gardeners from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 22.
Internationally known food historian and author William Woys Weaver tells the remarkable story of a seed collection started by his grandfather, H. Ralph Weaver, during the Great Depression, when food was scarce. Learn more about the Roughwood Seed Collection—its historical background, works in progress, and the way the Collection provides a venue for seed testing, identification of rare heirlooms long considered lost, and an experimental “tasting collection” for farm-to-table chefs. Come to Alsdorf Auditorium to hear Weaver's lecture, "Our Kitchen Garden for Culinary and Cultural Research: The Roughwood Seed Collection." Free (usual parking fees apply); preregistration required.
3 – 5 p.m.
Seed Swap in Nichols Hall
Gardeners are invited to bring saved or leftover vegetable, flower, and herb seed packets to share and swap with other gardeners. Beginners are welcome to participate even without seeds. Experienced seed savers will enjoy swapping with others at the Connoisseur’s Corner. Talk to experts about starting seeds indoors, seed saving, and recommended varieties for Chicago gardens. Check our Seed Library at the Lenhardt Library. Visit the Seed Swap’s Garden Shop booth to purchase seed-starting equipment, book, and more. Bring the kids! Drop-in Family Programs feature a seed maze, making a sprouting necklace, and more. Free (usual parking fees apply),