Inspired by similar events in the region and throughout the world, Leanne Ferree decided to organize the first seed swap in York County.

The Susquehanna Seed Swap will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Horn Farm Center, 4945 Horn Road in Hellam Township.

"Gardeners will be able to try something new without putting a lot of money into it," she said.

Farmers, gardeners and those who are simply curious will meet this weekend to swap seeds and skills. They'll also learn how to save seeds and help them bloom.

"An advantage to local seed swaps is knowing the seeds you're getting are better acclimated to the local soil. We're collectively breeding locally hardy seeds," Ferree said.

Saving heirloom varieties is another goal of the swap, she said.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own bags or containers, a permanent marker and labels.

How it will work: When attendees register at 10 a.m. Saturday, they will receive tickets according to the amount of seeds they bring. If they don't bring seeds, they can still earn tickets by making a donation to the Horn Farm Center.

After registration, seed samples will be portioned and ready to trade.

Once the event begins, swappers will learn the basics of seed germination and transplanting by making seed balls--a mixture of top soil, clay and seeds that can be planted to create a miniature garden.

"They're really great for companion planting," Ferree said.

The event will also include light refreshments, door prizes for those who bring the most seeds and the most seed varieties, and tutorials from regional experts.

Speakers, too: Beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, two speakers will discuss

various topics. Christopher Wallen, a grower at Quality Greenhouses in Dover, will talk about saving seeds, germination methods and transplanting.

And Tim Mountz of Happy Cat Farms in Kennet Square, Chester County, will explain large-scale professional seed production and the importance of saving heirloom varieties.

"There are a lot of advantages to saving your own seed," Wallen said. "It's cost effective because you don't have to buy new seeds, and the seeds gradually adapt better."

It also helps to weed out the lesser seeds. For example, if you grow 100 bean plants and two of them die, you know not to save those seeds, he said.

Wallen has also noticed a growing interest in saving seeds among local growers.

"They want to know where their seeds come from, especially gardeners who are worried about chemicals or genetic modification," he said.

The Susquehanna Seed Swap fits into a growing regional trend in which more consumers are seeking healthy, local food, he said.

"It feels like it's all part of the buy fresh, buy local picture," Wallen said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.