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Gardeners throughout Teller County will gather next week for the annual seed swap event, allowing them to exchange seeds of heirloom crops. In this file photo, a Gardeners with Altitude member admires her lettuce at the Teller County Fair this summer. Photo courtesy of Trudie Layton

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To support local gardeners and promote gardening itself, several Teller County-area organizations have come together to host an annual seed swap event.

As part of the Teller-Park Conservation District’s Homestead Series, the district has joined with the Harvest Center, Gardeners with Altitude, the Rampart Area Seed Library and the Colorado State University Extension for the free seed swap, scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Aspen Valley Ranch yurt, 1150 S. West Road in Woodland Park. The event begins at 10 a.m. and runs through noon.

Gardeners attending the seed swap can commune with fellow gardeners and expand their heirloom collections; gardeners bring their own seeds — vegetable or flower seeds — collected during the 2018 growing season and share them with others, an event flier states.

“Gardeners all think it’s important to save their seeds. They do better in their own environment,” said Trudie Layton, a Gardeners with Altitude member who has also been active for decades with the nearby Manitou Springs Garden Club.

In Teller County, the average garden is located at more than 8,400 feet in altitude, presenting particular obstacles to gardening — not including area wildlife and unpredictable Colorado weather.

“It’s important to use seeds that do well here and not use seeds that have been chemically altered. You want to know the source and know that it will do well,” Layton said.

The seed swap is also an opportunity to support the local seed library, available at the Woodland Park and Florissant libraries, according to an event pamphlet. The seed library was started within the last year to increase the number of successful crop yields for local gardeners.

“Knowing our unique challenges in gardening, a seed library has been created with the ability for all gardeners that have successful crops to save their seeds and share those seeds with others in our community,” an educational pamphlet states.

“This really was our first season (for the seed library) ... We want to encourage people to take these seeds, grow them, harvest them and bring some of them back for others,” Layton said.

The Rampart Seed Library is free and available to all in the community. It includes organic and non-organic seeds which have been donated for those wishing to garden on a budget. “We operate totally on the honor system,” Layton said.

This summer, area gardeners learned the seed library had been wiped out when Rampart Library District Library Director Michelle Dukette broke the bad news.

“Someone must’ve needed (those seeds) real bad. They took everything,” Layton said.

Now, area gardeners are working to replenish the library once more, and continue efforts to educate active, interested and new gardeners in the region.

“The whole idea is to get people to grow their own food. It’s hard, but it’s important to pass on gardening knowledge, especially to the younger generations.”

Editorial Assistant

Breeanna Jent is the editorial assistant for the Pikes Peak Newspapers. She has lived in Colorado Springs for three years and enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dog, and exploring Colorado.

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