1840 Farm Seed Exchange

The 1840 Farm Seed Exchange has been extended!
Sign up before midnight on Monday, March 26, 2012!

For the last two weeks, I’ve been deep in the midst of a great read.  A truly fascinating tale of the men who shaped our nation and their overpowering love of agriculture.  There’s no need for a spoiler alert warning here:  I won’t be divulging the best bits from the text.  I’ll let you discover the wonder that is this read for yourself.

I will tell you that reading this book got me thinking.  I had known that the men of the Constitutional Convention put quill to parchment and drafted a plan for our fledgling nation.  What I hadn’t realized was that they were writing the future of our nation in the soil at the same time.

These men who would become President believed that our agrarian tendencies were our greatest asset.  George Washington spent his evenings as the leader of the Continental Army planning his beloved tree grove at Mount VernonThomas Jefferson spent every waking moment planning and surveying not only his gardens at Monticello, but the natural landscape of the most respected gardens in the world with James Madison often at his side.  Benjamin Franklin, though he would never become President, smuggled seeds out of Europe in correspondence to his wife and son back in the colonies for fear that the British government might attempt to limit the seeds available to colonists.

These men gathered together to discuss the course that our nation would take and found themselves talking about planting crops instead.  They shared seeds with each other and hoped that together they could learn how to be more capable gardeners, more successful farmers.  Farming was their passion, their chosen profession.  In fact, on a visit to Monticello last year, the tour guide proudly told my daughter that Thomas Jefferson, on the occasion of the first census of this country proudly listed his occupation as “farmer”.  It’s worth noting that he was serving as the Secretary of State at the time.

More than two centuries have passed since then.  I find myself living on a farm that dates back to within fifteen years of the death of Jefferson.  When we moved here, it had been abandoned for several years.  No one had been tending to its gardens.  No one had been growing anything on its grounds.  It was a lonely and desolate place.

Six years later, we are cultivating not only a garden that feeds our family, but a lifestyle that brings us closer together every day.  1840 Farm has literally come back to life.  Last October, when three goats were born within the walls of our beloved barn, we knew that we had proudly proclaimed to all who were listening that we were farmers as well.  We had fed our souls and breathed life back into the farm that we call home.

Reading Andrea Wulf’s Founding Gardeners made me look at our farm differently.  In fact, I started to look at farming differently.  It made me want to run outside and plant our gardens, tend to the soil, and feel the sun on my face.  Glancing at the calendar, I was reminded that planting season has yet to arrive.  The ground is frozen solid and snow is blanketing the gardens and grounds.  Planting would have to wait.

But why couldn’t we emulate the best of our founding fathers and spend time planning our gardens, sharing our gardening knowledge, and dreaming of the sunny days to come?  If you ask me, an old-fashioned seed exchange is in order.  For the cost of a stamp, we can all look forward to receiving a packet of seeds from another gardener who is also counting the minutes until spring finally arrives.

Heirloom Tomatoes at 1840 FarmOn the first day of spring, Tuesday, March 20, 2012Tuesday, March 27, 2012, I will send an Email to each participant with the name and address of the person their seed packet should be mailed to.  If you would like to receive more than one seed packet (and send more than one packet) simply fill out the form as many times as you would like to participate.  The seeds you share can be saved from your garden or purchased from a store.  Gardeners and farmers of all ages and skill levels are welcome (end encouraged) to participate.

Encourage your friends and family to join in.  The more people we have sharing seeds, the more interesting this seed exchange will be!  To make things a little more interesting, I’ll be awarding one lucky participant an extra prize:  a collection of heirloom seeds for planting in their garden.  The collection will include some of the beloved varieties grown here at 1840 Farm.

Good luck to all of you who participate.  I’ll announce the winner of the 1840 Farm Seed Collection on March 20 March 27!


The spring 1840 Farm Seed Exchange has closed for 2012.  If you are interested in participating in the 2013 Seed Exchange, leave a comment below and I will contact you next spring when the details are available.

The spring 1840 Farm Seed Exchange has closed for 2012.  If you are interested in participating in the 2013 Seed Exchange, leave a comment below and I will contact you next spring when the details are available.




  1. Morning , just got in from work watered the greenhouse , the cold frame , and the seedlings in the basement and now this, the book references go right to my heart , i envy the farm and love the blog , great work keep it up , thanks

    1. Author

      Jim, Sounds like a wonderful morning at your farm! I am so glad that you enjoy reading the blog. I hope that you will enjoy the book. It is a fascinating read for anyone who loves farming and gardening. I’m guessing by your early morning routine that you fit that bill!

  2. Hey Jennifer this is such a great idea! and I love your blog too!
    Hey Jim I’ll be sendin’ you some seeds soon as I got your name in the exchange! 🙂 I’m orginally from the south but live in New England now, last week we had a week of 70’s and 80’s…soooo strange for this time of year up here! Today we had some snow…back to reality for ali’l while I guess… I can’t wait to plant our gardens and can’t wait to see where my seeds will come from in the exchange! have a wonderful day! 🙂

    1. Author

      I’m so glad that you are enjoying the seed exchange and reading the blog. This weather has been very peculiar so far this spring. I can’t wait to get to gardening either!

      I hope that you will join us on Facebook for the “1840 Farm Seed Exchange” group. Then you can share photos of your gardens and tell us how your seeds are growing.

  3. Hi!
    I’ve been reading your blog non-stop all day (from the first entry I could find in 2010), the heat index here was 116°F, and I have a heart condition – so besides venturing out to my tiny raised bed garden to give it a good soak in the early a.m. and again at dusk… I’ve been stuck indoors with the A/C. But your blog has made passing the time very enjoyable!
    Anyway, please put me down for the 2013 seed exchange notice 🙂

    1. Author

      Thank you for the lovely compliment! I am glad that you enjoyed reading about our adventures. I will certainly keep you informed when the 2013 Seed Exchange kicks off. I hope that you will continue to read and comment at 1840 Farm. In the meantime, try to stay cool in spite of the heat outside.

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