The SwapFest, Lusi and me

A couple of months of planning, lots of phonecalls and emails, a meeting or two and tomorrow’s SwapFest in Sydenham Botanic Park is all set … and along comes tropical cyclone Lusi.

I spent a great deal of last night awake – the Vege Grower and I got up at about 2.30am and moved my small orchids under cover, a task I’d forgotten to do in daylight – and heard the wind building, then a patter or two of rain, and finally got to sleep.

This morning it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as has been forecast. The winds aren’t as strong and we haven’t had torrential downpours. Instead the wind is gusty and reasonably strong but we’ve experienced much worse in this house and the rain is intermittent and light – so far.

The NZ Herald website expects the wind and rain to peak later this afternoon but the rain radar isn’t showing heavy falls, only the light end of moderate, which is actually useful in terms of the dry ground we’ve had, and it seems to be moving away from us to the west. Perhaps we’re far enough south to only cop the extreme edge of it; certainly Waikato’s forecast is worse than ours.

Track Lusi’s progress on this rather neat website which has a real-time animated map of the globe’s winds (move the screen image to your part of the world with your mouse so the green circle is over where you want to view, double clicking the circle zooms in, I haven’t discovered how to zoom out). Apparently the cyclone (now an ex-cyclone, but still) met wind-shear in the Pacific and it pushed Lusi, coming to us from Vanuatu, further west.

We’ll make a decision late morning tomorrow as to whether to carry on with the SwapFest – showers won’t deter us but high winds and heavy rain will. Notice of cancellation will be posted to the website and the park’s Facebook page.

I have packets of seeds and boxes of cuttings to sell to raise funds for the park so I’d like to see my hard work made useful. Come along and say hello – we’re open for trading from 1-4pm and Geoff Brunsden will have a backyard bumblebee hive on display, as well as talking at 2pm about attracting pollinators to your garden.

The afternoon is a chance to raise awareness of the Botanic Park project, as well as offering gardeners a chance to get some free or reasonably priced seeds and plants –  and to talk to one another in that all-important exchange of knowledge.

The idea for the SwapFest, which is a bit of a misleading name because traders can do what they like, whether it be give away, exchange or sell or a mix of any or all, came from something I stumbled across online where a woman in suburban California put a stand (something like a meat safe, I’m guessing) on her verge with books in it, inviting people to take one and, if they wanted, put one back. After a bit she started putting seeds in there too.

There are some good ideas here on starting a community seed library and plenty of ideas on the net for starting a seed exchange, whether online or at a meeting place. Here’s a story about a up Seed Swapping Station project that began in Hawaii and a personal view of getting ready to give it a go.

Apparently there is a seed library running out of the Kumeu Library in the greater Auckland area; the Southern Seed Exchange based in Christchurch is well established; and the Symbiosis Seed Exchange covers Otago and Southland.

Sharing seeds is a great way to ensure that heritage varieties survive. Go on, give it a go!