How To Organize A Plant Swap

Plant swaps are a wonderful, environmentally friendly way to get the whole community involved in making the world a little greener – without purchasing any newly manufactured containers or commercially produced plants… so we’ve put together this quick step by step guide to help you get started.  Of course, if hosting an in-person plant swap isn’t practical for you, we would love to invite you to use our website to post available plants instead! 

Update:  We want to hear your ideas!  Please let us know if you have any other suggestions or feedback in the comment form at the bottom of this page.  Thanks!

1) Talk to people!

This will be a group event, so try to get a feel for what your community will want early on in the planning process.  Tell your friends, ask for suggestions, and get feedback from anyone that can help.  Everyone has something they can contribute, and it will help to get as many ideas as you can early on before you get too involved with planning the specifics.

2) Decide who will help organize, and who to invite

Will this be a plant swap themed party for your personal friends?  Or an event for the entire local community?  Maybe you’d like to plan it for an organization such as a school or workplace?  No matter who will be invited, it’s always a good idea to have a few people help with organizing.  Decide ahead of time what needs to be done, and who will be responsible for everything.  This will help avoid confusion on the day of the event.  For example, who is responsible for setting up tables?  Or clean-up after?

3) Pick a location

Location depends on your group and the probable weather.  Try to pick something with an indoor option if rain is likely.
  • A backyard or living room is great for groups of friends.  
  • A front yard is more “open” for getting the whole neighborhood involved – and we bet some people will see it and ask to join the next one!
  • Community gardens, parks, churches, or other local gathering places are a great idea for larger groups
  •  Local business venues might be willing to host too, and it’s a great opportunity for them to get more customers

4) Choose a date and time

There are pros and cons to any schedule.  Something planned ASAP will have a better chance of getting people excited and of having a weather forecast available (if that matters).  On the other hand, if you plan it about a month in advance, that gives you plenty of time to get the word out and involve more people, and it might give everyone time to take cuttings of larger plants specifically to bring to your swap.

5) Set the Rules

If it’s just a small group of friends, you can ask everyone to bring some plants, and let them mingle and figure out what they consider fair swaps on their own.  Otherwise here’s a simple set of guidelines that involves having some paper tickets, jars or cups, painter’s tape, and a marker:

  1. Everyone must bring at least one plant or item to trade.
  2. An organizer will give everyone between 1 to 3 “tickets” for each item they brought.  Fresh cuttings of common plants are worth 1 ticket, average plants 2 tickets, and rare or large plants 3 tickets.
  3. Each plant gets a painter’s tape label with it’s ticket worth and it’s species written on it
  4. Participants can set up a table for their labeled plants with their own ticket collection jar
  5. Everyone can walk around and swap!

This method relies on the honor system, but it’s simple and fun.  Each person has tickets to spend based on how many plants they brought. They can walk to any table, choose a plant, and pay for it by leaving the tickets in the jar.

6) Promote your event

Get the word out!  Assuming it’s not just for your friends, here are some ideas for how you can reach out and get the whole community involved:

  • Make the information easy to share:  Create an event online, send emails, share flyers, etc.
  • Print ad in local newspaper
  • Newsletters from local schools and community organizations
  • Contact local schools and colleges and ask if any of their departments or clubs want to be involved
  • Put flyers on local bulletin boards, especially near parks or public gardens

7) Have fun hosting!

That’s all, folks!  Of course, there are always more ideas.  You could ask a local business to sponsor the event, perhaps by providing snacks or coffee if you agree to pass out fliers or coupons for their establishment.  You could have a doorprize, include a raffle to win a particularly nice plant, include a simultaneous fundraiser for a local charity, or more.

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