Home Exchange for Gardeners

gardenfaerie(z5b Michigan)June 10, 2005

It occurred to me that it would be really cool to swap homes with someone who is also an avid gardener.

Has anyone heard of, or is interested in, offering free accomodation to fellow gardeners visting the area, in return for hosting them in your own area?

I haven't heard of such a thing, though I know there are home swap services and working vacations on farms, but neither is exactly what I'm after. The National Trust in England provides free lodging for garden volunteers, but I can't find an equivalent in the USA. The Enfield Shaker Museum in NH has a Village Gardener program, a weeklong garden internship, but it does not include lodging.

In addition, I'd love to travel to the northeast and stop at many gardens but I am on a limited income and could not afford the lodging. I can't believe I'm the only one in this situation (an avid gardener looking for free lodging, who can offer gardening work or reciprocal housing in return).

Monica

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shenandoah(7NC)

Sounds like you need to start a website.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 11:15PM
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gardengal98390(Pacific NW z8)

Monica: I think you have a great idea. A home exchange (rather than visit)seems more difficult due to scheduling vacation times. I travel in the winter (gardens of Costa Rica last year) when my garden is asleep in our seemingly endless rain (November through April). From May through October I hate to leave my "paradise". Personally, I'd like to have a guest to visit who wants to learn about gardening in the Pacific Northwest. In turn, I'd like to visit them and learn about gardening in their region. I'm located between Portland, Oregon (famous for roses) and Seattle/Bellevue; and not far from B.C. I know all the region's public gardens and nurseries. We have great rhododendron gardens in bloom from mid May through June.

Maybe YOU'D like to visit. GardenGal98390

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 12:30AM
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Bill_zone6(W. Pa)

A visitation plan seems more likely than a house swap. If two Garden Webers have a lot in common and can take their conversations off site for more inquiry, it seems the way to go, for most of us not wanting to spend a lot of money in an area we know little of. Yes a reciprocal visit sounds more practical.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 7:43AM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

GardenFairie,

"The National Trust in England provides free lodging for garden volunteers, but I can't find an equivalent in the USA."

Our Florida park system is huge, wonderful, award-winning - and cannot survive without volunteers! Visit
http://www.floridastateparks.org/
Come down for a long, free, "vacation" as a park volunteer!

The National Parks system has similar live-in-the-campground-for-free volunteer situations - and probably other states also.

I do like your idea of visiting or exchanging!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 10:02PM
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dogridge(7b nc)

I think this is a great idea. While in the host's area one could visit local public gardens and maybe help the host with garden design or planting. It could be fun to plan the trip around the Garden Conservancy's Open Days.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 5:04PM
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daphnexduck(Z8 Tacoma, WA)

This sounds great to me, too. I've met in person other GardenWeb gardeners, and always enjoyed them. I'd love to have someone come to visit - and then I'd have an excuse to go and visit gardens and nurseries that I don't normally get to.
If you can put up with one dogs and lots of cats, and want to come to the Pacific Northwest, drop me a line.
Daphne
Tacoma

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 5:19PM
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beth_b_kodiak(zone 5a)

Monica, that sounds like such a great Idea. I travel quite a bit and have met three other Garden Webbers so far. I'd love to have visitors or visit others.
The park volunteer idea is great for those who have campers but not very helpful otherwise. I'd enjoy doing that too if I still owned a camper.
Hope to see more feedback on this.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 10:40AM
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beth_b_kodiak(zone 5a)

Monica, I found several exchanges listed in the book. "Unbelievably Good Deals and Great adventures That You absolutely can't get unless You're Over 50.
It's a long title but lots of interesting info in there. Try your library or bookstore.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 2:35PM
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gardenfaerie(z5b Michigan)

Hello all! It's been a while since my original post. I kind of got side-tracked by life and am only now checking up on posts!

Thanks to both GardenGal and daphnexduck for offering me a place to stay in the Pacific NW. Gosh, that was sure swell; I'd love to visit that area of the country. If I can ever arrange a visit out that way (quite a jaunt from MI), I will be in touch offline!

As a clarification, I did mean the swap to be reciprocal while the owner is at home, so the guest would be more a short-term free lodger.

I have since created a website for myself as a speaker/writer, and have seriously been thinking of adding a way for people to sign up with this "service." Must iron out details, though.

Most home exchange websites charge a small fee that then enables you to see other people's contact info. Now, being cheap, I'd prefer to have it be free, BUT I wouldn't want to list people's street addresses or phone numbers outright due to privacy concerns (individuals would contact each other offline to arrange details). How do people feel, however, about listing their email addresses (can be spam-bot protected) online, or posting photos of their houses?

In the short term, I would like to offer my humble but clean abode in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for anyone interested. I live next to a park and can guide you to many local-ish gardens.

If anyone here lives near Cleveland, Ohio, I'll be there the week of May 21 (don't know exact dates yet), and would love to stay with a gardener, in exchange for your future visit to Ann Arbor.

Thanks! Monica

Here is a link that might be useful: My site, not yet related to home swaps for gardeners!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 4:04PM
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gardenfaerie(z5b Michigan)

Happy (almost) new year!

I'd like to again extend the offer of meeting up, or staying in my home, to GardenWeb members traveling in SE Michigan.

In September 2008 I will finally be going to the Pacific Northwest--there's a conference in Portland but I'm hoping to make it to Washington as well.

I'll also be going to visit my niece in Colorado Springs, and will of course head into Denver as well. Not sure on the timing, but if anyone in the Denver area wants to meet up, that would be great!

Monica
www.thegardenfaerie.com

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

Monica,

When you have your system for connecting traveling GardenWeb folks with GW hosts, please let us know on the Florida forum. I bet you will have many takers in each direction for Florida!

And I think you have hit on a real need. I'm almost part of the Baby Boomer generation, so I must have a lot of company in being ready to retire soon and having time to travel. As a solo traveler without friends to visit or contacts, it could be too overwhelming (and lonely) (even though I want to have an RV of some kind and take along my cats!).

A retirement perk will be having time to turn my storage bedroom with bath into a proper guest suite.

So, please keep in touch!
Thanks
Irma in St. Petersburg, Florida

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 1:51PM
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