Twice a year I get together with a group of gardening friends and family to carry on a tradition they started decades ago – ordering garden seeds as a group. We each bring a covered dish and a few stories to tell, along with the necessary items for our cooperative buying effort.
At our January meeting, when we actually order the seeds, each of us brings a list of what we want to buy that year, any seed catalogs we might have, and some money. We gather around a table while our group leader, Paul, flips through the catalog we usually use and asks if anyone wants to order each kind of vegetable seed, and which variety they would like. We all agree on one variety and tell Paul how much we want. He marks our orders on a master list and later transfers the totals to the catalog order form. If anyone wants to order something different, we consult the other catalogs. Because the per-seed price is cheaper if you order in large quantities, we all save money on the seeds as well as on shipping by ordering together. We usually order corn and beans by the pound, and other seeds by the ounce. Rarely do we ever order a mere packet of anything!
After we're done ordering, we give Paul our money and then dig into the food. All in all, the meeting, which feels more like a party, takes about three hours.
We meet again in March at Paul's house to pick up our seeds. At that time he refunds us any money that we overpaid. Then my uncle, the math whiz, divides the seeds into the containers or baggies that we all bring for our own seeds. We label our containers, laugh over stories and jokes, and enjoy a hearty meal.
Our family seed co-op is a fun way to save money and ensure that we see each other at least twice a year. Sure beats paying a fortune for those packets in the store!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.