Scattering Seeds of Community: CCJ’s 3rd Annual Seed Swap

Posted Apr 4, 2023, by Allison Evans


We are pleased to announce that our 3rd Annual Seed Swap was a resounding success! We had over 100 community members attend our swap, handed out 60 grow your own potato bags, and gave out thousands of packets of free seeds! Our Seed Swap was even featured on the front page of the Observer Reporter the following Monday! 

As CCJ’s Event Planner, it makes me extremely happy when an event goes off without a hitch and everyone seems to be having a great time. That was the vibe at our seed swap!  Spring, and all its possibilities, was in the air! I could tell folks were genuinely enjoying themselves while looking through the abundance of free seeds, chatting about gardening tips with fellow community members, and watching their kids paint terracotta pots they had planted themselves with fast growing green beans. They also loved being able to ask their questions to the Master Gardeners and the folks from Firefly Gardens!


We love holding this seed swap so we can help community members get started on their gardens with free seeds, information, and showing them a growing technique they might not be familiar with; grow your own potato bags. We also love introducing  members to seeds they can’t usually get at their local stores. Seeds that are more rare or unusual, like Santo, Rat Tail Radishes, Pink Chinese Celery and different heirloom tomato varieties like Costolto Genovese or Brad’s Atomic Grape.

The theme for our Seed Swap this year was “Scattering Seeds of Community” . Our member and friend Sarah Sweeney created this slogan and design. Check out her other work  here. We felt that it really encapsulated why we hold this event annually. It is one of our goals at CCJ to provide people with opportunities to engage with their fellow community members.

seed Swap Stickers2

We love when our members become friends, collaborate on community projects, or just gleefully chat over their upcoming gardening plans together! Our overarching goal is not only to promote friendships, but also build collective power so we, as stewards of Southwestern Pennsylvania can work together to keep our earth, air, and water safe for all of us and future generations.

We also hold our Seed Swap to promote sustainability and self sufficiency. With expensive grocery store prices it just makes sense to have a backyard garden to save money on food that is both healthy and delicious. At CCJ, we always keep our events free so anyone, regardless of income, can have an afternoon out without having to worry about money. We aim to provide a sense of community and a culture of care which is unfortunately sometimes lacking in the world.


On  September 9th, we will be  hosting our 2nd Annual Harvest Festival at Mingo Park. Please save the date and  send pictures of the plants you grow from the seed swap to allison@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org! Any recipes you would like to include in our upcoming CCJ Community Cookbook can be submitted here!

You can read more about saving heirloom seeds in our blog “Why Saving Seeds is a Radical Act”.

We would like to thank all our sponsors that helped make this event possible: Root Pouch, Ann Kanzius Feeds, Eighty-Four Agway, Bakers Creek Rare Seeds, Bentley Seed Company, High Mowing Organic Seeds, True Leaf Market, Territorial Seed Company, Renee’s Garden, and Hudson Valley Seed Company. As well as our partners: the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners, Firefly Gardens, and the Heinze family who will be putting on a canning demonstration this fall! 

We really loved engaging with community members over all things seeds and gardening. Please take this short poll to let us know what kind of free gardening programing you would like to see in the future from CCJ!

Thanks to all who attended and donated to this year’s seed swap! We hope you have an abundant growing season and hope to see you soon at our next Community Meeting on April 25th, Kids Fishing Day on Sunday May 28th, or at our annual Dryerson Festival on June 24th

Have a great spring, and I hope your garden is filled with plants and joy!



  • Allison Evans

    Allison Evans (she/her) is our Events Coordinator and was born and raised in Washington County. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in General Studio Art with a minor in History from Westminster College and an Associate of Science in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Allison is an artist, a photographer, and an activist whose passion for activism and social justice brought her to CCJ. She serves on the board of a local non-profit, ReVisions, that strives to fight racism by addressing its roots in our educational system and teaching the next generation about diversity and inclusivity. Allison also has ties to the fracking industry. The family farm she grew up on had a well pad, and her husband worked for the industry for years. She saw firsthand how fracking and energy extraction affects people in her community. Allison has a passion for sustainability, growing her own food, and composting. She loves gardening with her husband Jason, spending time with family and friends, trips to the ocean, camping, and spoiling her cats, Kitty and Katniss. Contact Allison at allison@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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