Free seed packets are offered by several organisations in an effort to promote gardening, while helping them eradicate hunger in their own neighbourhoods. In many cases, you can get free seeds for edible plants simply by writing a letter requesting seeds. You may have to pay minimal shipping costs to receive the seeds, or you can enclose your own prepaid mailer in some cases. Some stores will also give away outdated seed packets when new shipments arrive.
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Write a letter to Seed Corps requesting free seeds. Seed Corps, a non-profit organisation, sends free vegetable seeds around the world to help teach people how to help themselves end hunger. Describe your gardening project, how large your garden may be and who may benefit from it. If you work with children or are feeding the community, you may receive even more seeds.
Address a return envelope to yourself, ensuring the envelope is large enough for seed packets. Attach adequate postage so Seed Corps can send your seeds to you. Fold this envelope along with your letter and mail it to Seed Corps.
Fill out the "Free Seeds for Schools" offer page at the Tomato Bob website if your garden will feed children or the community. This project aims to preserve heirloom tomatoes by giving seeds to community and school groups for their own gardens. Heirloom refers to plant varieties that are nearly extinct now, but were flourishing 100 or more years ago.
Write a description of your gardening project for the America the Beautiful Fund's Free Seed Project. Fill out and print their application form. This project offers grants of 100 to 6,000 seed packets based on need and availability. These seeds packets are generally dated from the last growing season and have at least 92 per cent germination rate. Be sure to specify whether you'd like vegetable seeds, flower seeds and/or herb seeds.
Write a check for proper postage based on number of seed packets you've requested from the America the Beautiful Fund. Mail your application, your letter and the check to the America the Beautiful Fund's Free Seed Project as indicated on their website.
Send an e-mail to the Ed Hume Seed Company's "Plant a Row for the Hungry" project if you are willing to share your grown food with those in need. Be sure to follow the instructions on the project page of the company's website (edhumes.com). If you are one of the first 250 people to respond each season, or if you are already feeding the hungry with your garden, you will likely receive seeds from Ed Hume.
Tips and warnings
- Seed swaps are also another good way to get free seeds, although the seeds will not be in packets. Check sites such as the National Garden Association's Seed Swap page and fill out the required information. If there is an active gardening organisation in your town, chances are a seed swap exists or would be welcomed.
- Sometimes stores or garden centres will give away outdated seed packets. Visit your local seed supplier and ask.
- If you have food left over during your gardening season and would like to help others with it, contact Urban Farming (urbanfarming.org) or Feeding America (feedingamerica.org). Either organisation can put you in touch with those in need, or with local food banks.
- Free seed offers often expire when the company or organisation runs out of seed packets, so it is best to inquire about free seeds early in the planting season. Some organisations may offer you only one packet of seeds but may give more if you are doing a project for the community or for groups of children.
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