WANTED: How to Put Together a Dallas Swap

sylviatexas1January 22, 2010

You betcha there are enough Dallas gardeners for a swap!

The problem always has been in the engineering:

The FW site was chosen for its easy access to people from widely-scattered areas & for its free parking, play areas for the kids, & the nearness of such attractions as the Botanical Gardens, zoo, museums, Omni theater, etc.

When we've attempted Dallas swaps in the past, we've run into problems such as congested traffic & high parking & site usage fees.

If you can locate an easy-to-find place where people can park close to the gazebo or pavilion (easier to cart our plants around!), I think a Dallas swap would be wonderful!

Somewhere, either here on this forum or maybe in my documents, I have something like "How to Have a Plant Swap".

If I can find it, I'll post it here!

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Since we want everyone to have a happy, harmonious experience, we're posting info, hints, suggestions, & rules this year:
Swap starts at 9 AM or whenever the first bunch arrives, & we "swap til we drop"...which usually happens about 2 PM!
Bring your surplus plants, cuttings, seeds, garden supplies & tools, art, garden clogs...anything that another gardener could possibly use, & be realistic & respectful about what you expect to "trade" these items for.

(I sometimes bring a cat litter bucket full of rose cuttings, but I don't expect to get a brand new Ace Hardware wheelbarrow in return!)
Be sure your plants are well-hydrated, as travel & wind are hard on them, & we want to give our adopted plants the best start possible in their new homes.
Sturdy, permanent, not-easily-dislodged labels are most helpful, & info sheets are absolutely priceless.
When arranging pre-trades, be sure that you & your trade partner are on the same page;
if you offer a "plant" for a "plant", describe its size, size of the pot it's in, age of the plant, when you took the cutting from the mother plant, etc.

It's perfectly fine to trade cuttings, but be sure that your trade partner knows what he/she is getting, & bear in mind that, while some cuttings will root, not all of them will, so bring a bunch..
When I bring that bucket of rose cuttings, I always have as many as possible of each variety;
they "cost" me literally nothing, & I want to be sure my trade partner ends up with *roses*.

Helpful accessories include hats, sunglasses, drinking water, water for hydrating/watering plants, Sharpies, notebooks, little red wagons or some such, newspaper, extra boxes, cards with your name/email/phone # to hand to kindred spirits.

A good way to keep your "inventory" in order is to box your pre-trades & label each box with the trade partner's name;
I my own self use a whole sheet of letter-sized paper & write the person's name in enormous letters;
on one side of the page, I list what is in the box;
on the other side, I list what that person is bringing me.
Complete one trade before you begin the next one:
It's too easy to hand off your box (especially when you first arrive & everyone swarms over to help you unload!
PLEASE help new arrivals, donÂt swarm anyone with your trade list or boxes!) to a trading partner only to find that they get lost in the shuffle while you try to answer questions from someone else...

& someone else gets your plants from the trader, who has gotten carried away with swap fever.

When you set up your space at the table, put your "availables" on top, your "already promised" pre-trades on the bench, & the things that you're taking home beneath.

(It wouldn't hurt to put your own name on some boxes or at least to bring paper & a Sharpie to label what you're taking home.)

We've always kept rules to a minimum, but here are 2 that should be self-explanatory:

1. Do not stick a cutting in a pot & call it a plant.
If someone discovers this at the swap, the person who did it will be asked to leave.

2. Do *not* remove or "take" a plant from *anywhere*;
the owner/trader must hand you the plant or item. This is the only way for everyone to be sure that they are satisfied & happy with the trade.

Remember, if there's a conflict over this, the trader/offerer/*owner* of the plant will prevail, so be sure that person wants you to have the plant.
If you remove a plant or other object from someone elseÂs area, you will have to leave.

Orphan's Table:
Extra plants that we want to share without a trade will go onto an "Orphan's Table", which is to be left untouched until the door prizes are drawn.

When you collect your door prize, go to the Orphan's Table & pick 1 item or 2, depending on the number of plants donated.

When everyone has picked one or two items, we'll start over.

Again: Don't Take, Wait Until It's Offered:

I cannot stress this strongly enough.

Do not take *anything*, even if you see your name on a box or a plant.

It isn't yours until the person who brought the item hands it to you, at which time you hand your trade to him or her.

This is the only way for traders to be sure that they don't lose control of their items before they know that they're happy with the item they're to receive in trade.

If you're trading an azalea for an ivy, & you've brought a 5 gallon azalea & your trading partner has brought a 4" pot of ivy & you don't think that's equitable, you can decline the trade.

If anyone takes something without permission, that person will be asked to leave.

One more "suggestion", but it's a *strong* suggestion:
Post your haves before you post your wants & before you ask a trader for something they've posted.

& the flip side to that is, of course, if someone asks for something & you can't find what they've offered, *ask* before you agree to bring them something.

Gardeners are generous souls, but no one likes to be used;
Please donÂt take advantage of someone's generosity.

If you come to the swap, please participate in it as fully as possible;
Offer *something* to any person who gives you something.

As was mentioned on a thread last spring, you can always bring cookies;
Wal-Mart sells every variety under the sun!

Door Prize Table:

When you bring your gift, a volunteer will put a number on it, & you draw a "list number" out of a hat.
This number gives you your place on a list.

At the end of the swap, each person comes forward in numerical order & draws a new number, & you get the gift with that number.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2010 at 6:05PM
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We've had Spring & Autumn Swaps in Ft Worth for a number of years now, & they've evolved over time from simply getting together & trading to our latest one, an absolute extravaganza of trading, visiting, prizes, & a rose-propagation demonstration.
The first element you need is the facility;
Since yours will be a Master Gardeners event, you may be able to use their meeting room/picnic area/whatever.

The Belton Swap last summer was held on the grounds of the facility (can't remember exactly what it was!) where the MGs had their greenhouses.

That was wonderful:
we got to tour the greenhouses with a MG who told us about all the plants & their needs & habits.

Gardenweb member xtal organized that one;
you might email her for tips particular to setting up a swap sponsored by MGs rather than just a group of us gardeners from gardenweb.

Some facilitating tips I've learned are:

post often enough to keep the threads on page 1 of the appropriate gardenweb forum so more people see the info.

Post photos of "photogenic" plants that you'll bring (or whose seeds you'll bring).

On Discussions & Conversations, refer to the Exchanges post;
ask people not to reply on Discussions or Conversations, & keep everything on the Exchanges page.

Post the date, time, & place.

Give simple, clear driving directions & maybe link to a map.

mention & encourage others to mention what plants they plan to bring.

encourage pre-trades:
people will be more committed to attending if they know someone else is counting on them, & they'll be more excited about coming if they know that they'll come home with something they really want.

Post a *minimum number* of simple, loose, clear "rules" & foster the spirit of sharing.

Rules like:

don't take anything unless the person who brought it says you can (seriously)

no selling (or some selling, or whatever, as long as the rule is the same every time for every attendee)

no rules as to what can be traded for what:
a fair trade is what the traders agree on.
if I want to trade an 30" tall shrub for a package of tomato seeds, that's fine.

no alcohol, no glass bottles

clean up your own mess

In addition to "rules", there are "hints" or "suggestions".


Put pre-trades in cardboard boxes clearly labeled with the recipient's name.
You might also put on the label the names of the plants that that trader is bringing for you.

Put things that are available in one place, & things that are committed to a pre-trade or that are to go home with ou in another place.

Folding tables & chairs & garden carts are extremely handy!
(You can put "unavailable" things under the table.)

Take along a notebook, pen, & camera;
these really help you remember what you're supposed to do with that plant!

Encourage newcomers to attend, even if they don't have plants or seeds; growing gardeners is an excellent way to grow gardens!

We've always shared potluck, but it isn't mandatory for every person to bring something, & we don't ask for money to subsidize the potluck;
asking for money at a swap sort of contradicts the basic premise of sharing.
But...at the Spring 2007 swap, one clever gardener, whose garden is too new to have enough to share, brought her husband (got a nice rose for him, too-snork!-I'm kidding!), & they made lunch for the group in exchange for plants.

It worked out beautifully!

I've tried to keep things as simple & loose as possible, to make the swaps undemanding & easy for anyone to enjoy.

At first, we didn't go in for games & prizes, since our swaps are "come & go" affairs:
People often bring their children, & you can't wait around a plant swap for a game or prize if it conflicts with, say, a soccer game.

At the Spring 2007 Swap, we did have prizes, brought by anyone who felt moved to do so, & we drew tickets for them;
We put all the prizes on a table, put our names on tickets, & when your ticket was drawn, you picked the prize you wanted.
It worked out great, & it was loads of fun.

Other than that, the swap takes care of itself as the traders get into the groove & visit & share experiences & tips, so be sure to follow the prime rule of hostessing:

enjoy your own party!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2010 at 6:12PM
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    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 2:31PM
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