YORKVILLE, Ill. – More than 70 community members joined the Kendall County Master Gardener volunteer team for its annual free Community Seed Swap event on Jan. 25. The event features free seeds including vegetables, flowers, herbs and native plants. In addition, some community members brought their own seeds to swap and share.

“We call it a swap, but bringing seeds to swap is not required,” said Kendall County Master Gardener Laura Spang. “We also provide expert advice on how to start the seeds and grow the plants.”

All seeds collected pre-event were labeled and came with care instructions. During the exchange event, Master Gardeners also answered questions, and they demonstrated how to do germination tests and what a seed-starting system could look like.

“There are many reasons we host this event,” said Spang. “The first and most important is education; we all learn from this event. We share our knowledge with each other and with the public. Even the most knowledgeable people in the room come out of this event having learned something. We also want to reach out to the people of Kendall County and let them know we are here to help them. Plus, it is a fun way to volunteer, and we all go home with some seeds.”

Spang said this year she helped many people choose native plant seeds, which is her area of expertise. “My favorite part is when people come in and tell me that they are working on turning sections of their yard into prairie gardens. I got to spend the morning talking with people about growing native plants and they are just as excited about it as I am.”

Karen Veeder of Montgomery attended for the first time since she is planning some prairie plantings for her yard.

“I was thrilled to be able to ask about the specific native seeds available, and be shown how to plant them, if the seed had to be "shelled" before planting, and how large they might become,” Veeder said. “It was a huge bonus to get a seed starter kit and soil to boot!”

Veeder added she will be back in the future for the Seed Swap and look for other Master Gardener programs in the future.

To learn more about Kendall County Master Gardener events, visit https://go.illinois.edu/KendallCountyMG and save the date for the annual Kendall County Master Gardener Plant Sale on May 16.