Houzz Logo Print

What is a Swap Meet and How Does It Work?

9 years ago

To find out what is happening in your area, check the Mid-Atlantic forum and its Conversations, and the Get-Togethers forum. Or check the local Pennsylvania, Virginia, or New Jersey forums.

* Posted by: rustynail z10 MD (My Page) on Wed, Jul 24, 02 at 6:31
Basically, what we've done in the past is this:
We pick a location and a date. Then the type 'A's start working. (I'm very shy so I'm merely the silent keeper of the lists.) You get all excited so you run out and dig and pot what you can spare and share; then you worry about whether you've dug and potted enough so you run back outside and...well, you repeat that process over and over until the day of the meet.
We have had MD and VA swaps in the Fall and there may be a NJ one also. Wow! We're quite into this! The MD one is our 3rd that I know of (Fall 2002). Most of us bring extras that we're willing to give away but of course, special plants you should arrange to trade; there are some very sophisticated gardeners in our group who can match your best with theirs. Watch 'Conversations' for more news and/or search the past pages. I guarantee you'll have a wonderful time and that it will be drearily rainy come swap day but if you let yourself go, you'll be a true MAGer in no time. Like everyone else, I always plan to stay an hour or so but end up leaving long past that time; I bring my DH to remind me that I have a home.
Fun and funny people in this Forum--I sure like them.
* Posted by: Treehouse z7 MD USA (My Page) on Wed, Jul 24, 02 at 12:48
Swaps can be lots of fun, and they are done different ways. You got the Mid-Atlantic style from rustynail.
The Lancaster, PA, style goes like this. There are no or very few prearranged swaps. You bring 12 plants for the exchange, something to eat for the picnic, a chair cuz Skeeter doesn't have a lot, and a card table to hide your new babies under. Some people brought little red wagons to haul their choices around rather than walk to and fro with the plants. You sign in, get a nametag and report the number of plants you brought. Your trades are put out in a specified area, and then you 'shop'- walk around and drool over all the goodies that are there. Eating is done BEFORE the swap- you need the energy and AFTER the swap cuz you are exhausted. At a specified time the swap leader gathers all the drool laden people. The swap leader reminds you about good manners and no fighting, calls out 'GO' and then you go and get the goodies you were drooling about. You take as many plants as you brought. There was such a variety that if you didn't get your first choice there was another beauty waiting for the taking. This is good for around 35 people. The main point is to socialize, and have fun.
* Posted by: rustynail z10 MD (My Page) on Wed, Jul 24, 02 at 20:05
Well, darn, Treehouse, that 'shop til you drop' approach takes all of the fun out it though you've got the eating and socializing part down pat! I had a blast scoping out my neighbor's/relative's gardens after seeing something special on the wish lists--bringing somebody's dream made me feel like Santa.
Seriously, Okie, lists help facilitate orderliness but aren't required. I came to the last swap swearing I wanted nothing but to dump my surplus on some poor unsuspecting souls; I came home with some of the best plants I never hoped for. Goodtogrow pushed a passionflower on me--it was so beautiful when it bloomed I thought someone had stuck a fake flower in my beds and I received the neatest cuke from Shirley--darn thing is producing up a storm. Oodles of other unexpected treasures now fill my gardens and continue to delight me; I hope my humble offerings made others happy.
* Posted by: Cynthia z7 MD (My Page) on Thu, Jul 25, 02 at 0:07
I thought rustynail did a very nice job explaining the process. I would have said something like "show up, take plants, talk plants, eat food, have a good time, and bring an umbrella, 'cause like she said - it always rains on swap day."
Treehouse, I like the Lancaster process, maybe we can use that for the open swap. (I tried to put controls/agenda around the spring swap and was outvoted.)
* Posted by: Alfie_MD6 z6 MD (My Page) on Thu, Jul 25, 02 at 15:35
As Lord High Commissioner of the Fall 2002 Maryland-area plant swap, I decree that this is how the swap works:
1. Arrive with a large, empty vehicle and a large, empty stomach. If you have to borrow your sister-in-law's custom van and fast for three days beforehand, so be it.2. Fill your vehicle with the plants that everybody else brought (unless the plants were specially designated beforehand as going home with somebody else.)3. Fill your stomach with brownies, potato salad, brownies, fried chicken, brownies, zucchini bread, brownies, hot dogs, and brownies.4. Drive home.
(For pre-arranged trades, check out member's lists or the swap site list, then e-mail the people who have what you want or want what you have.)
* Posted by: Blueangel Md 7 (My Page) on Thu, Jul 25, 02 at 15:56
We're doing rules?
* Posted by: Alfie_MD6 z6 MD (My Page) on Thu, Jul 25, 02 at 19:09
Well, they're not really rules. They're more like suggestions. For example, you don't have to eat hot dogs.
* Posted by: Alfie_MD6 z6 MD (My Page) on Mon, May 19, 03 at 12:56
What I Learned - Duties of Grand Poobah:
1. Delegate someone to start haves and wants lists.2. Delegate someone to start food lists and be in charge of food.3. Respond patiently when people keep asking questions that have already been answered. (Notably: where is the swap, when is the swap, where do I post what I have and want, and can I still come even if I don't have anything to trade?)4. Post directions to the swap site.5. Arrive at the swap site early enough to put up a sign (or delegate someone to do this).
Not so hard?
Alfie, retired Grand Poobah (Maryland Fall Swap 2002)
* Posted by: Cynthia (The Queen of the Maryland Spring 2003 Swap) in z7 MD (My Page) on Fri, Mar 28, 03 at 20:12
Selecting a Location! Key criteria are: 1)Large private parking area (usually have 20 to 30 vehicles so this is critical.)2) Hibachi grills, for hot dogs to go with all of the cold entries, and to warm our hands over.3) Restrooms4) Permission! for dangerous plantaholics to congregate in a public place (You think I'm kidding but I'm not!)5) Zero cost to participants.6) Pavilions or shelter nearby if possible since it always rains on swap day.
For those who are planning a swap, it's a good idea to run a signup for food etc so that you'll know what everyone is bringing and you don't end up with lots of beverages and zero cups :-)
Non-food Needs:-Self-adhesive labels for participants (Nothing fancy, I used old Floppy Disk labels for the Fall Swap)-Charcoal and Lighter Fluid for Charcoal if you're planning to grill- a few non-gardening husbands to run the grill (makes 'em feel useful).-Utensils-Napkins and Paper Towels-Paper Plates-Paper or Plastic Cups-Large Heavy Duty Garbage Bags for Clean-up-Anything I've forgotten to list.Food:-Beverages-Appetizers-Main Courses-Brownies-Other desserts-Condiments: Mustard, Relish, Catsup, salt & pepper.-Rolls if you're having hot dogs and burgers

ACCEPTABLE SWAP ITEMS (Newbies take heed!):Food and plants, including:outdoor plants, indoor plants, houseplants, plastic plants of the tasteful kind,cuttings rooted or unrooted, annuals or perennials,baby trees for bonzai, water plants, seeds of all types including grass (no, not that kind!), grass (sod), Anything related to gardening, including: gardening books or magazines, or books and magazines you'd like to read in the garden, clay, plastic or metal pots of any size or type, potting soil, seed starting mix or other bagged dirt,peat pots, plastic sixpaks, or Dixie cups for starting seeds, dried herbs, herbal tea, herbal soap, herbal cookies (no, not that kind!)decorative flowerpots for inside or outside, supplies, garden furniture, birdhouses, toadhouses or doghouses, bricks, stones, pavers, cinder blocks, sand or gravel, goldfish, koi, or mosquito fish, mosquito dunks or barley straw, egg cartons for Chickenpea, paper yard waste bags, hoses, sprinklers, or watering cans, extra Roundup, fertilizer, lime, or other garden chemicals, tools automatic or not, straw, hay or bagged leaves, garden tchotches, garden gnomes, pink flamingos, rabbit poopies, horse manure, llama dung ... (you get the idea)
Be creative. Extra points for food containing chocolate.
Most importantly, if you are a newbie and have nothing to trade - you are still welcome if you bring food or offer to help with the setup and cleanup. Heck - you're welcome anyway! There are usually plenty of plants to go around at a Mid-Atlantic swap meet.
**More Free Advice: Helpful Hints for the Day of the Swap**
1. Sign in with the swap organizer. If you need to find someone, check the sign-in list to see if they've arrived. 2. Wear a nametag. Put your Gardenweb name on it, and your real name if you want. Remember - you know what you look like but we don't, and our mental image of you is usually quite different from reality. 3. Spouses, significant others, children and other pets should also get a nametag "John, DH of ChrisMD" or whatever so we know who they belong to. That's also how we know who they aren't. 4. Dress appropriately. Every Maryland swap (fall and spring) has been rainy, grey and cold. You'll be outdoors for 3 hours so wear clothes that can get muddy and waterproof shoes. Eat lots of brownies to keep your body temperature up. Dress the spouses, significant others, children and other pets too so you don't have to listen to "Can we leave now?" for three hours. Feed them lots of brownies - chocolate is a sedative. 5. Bring a piece of paper and label your car with your Gardenweb name. We usually park nose-in and have the trunks open so you can just tape the car's "name-tag" to the top of the open trunk. This sounds really dumb but believe me it helps tremendously in sorting out who is who. 6. Label your plants, either ahead of time, or bring markers to the swap for those who don't play 'name that plant' too well. Cynthia keeps plant labels by the PC and as she agrees to prearranged trades, marks one side of the label with the plant name and the other side with the recipient's name. It also makes it easier for her to sort everything the night before the swap. Clean Popsicle sticks are cheap and make good labels. 7. If you have special trades, presort out each recipient's goodies as you fill your car. ChrisMD puts each recipient's together in a paper grocery bag, labels the bag with the Gardenweb name of the recipient, and leaves it next to her car. That way, people can find her car and find their bag of goodies even if she is not standing right there. This also saves carrying plants from car to car looking for trading partners. When you have a lot of trades, this is critical to YOUR enjoyment of the swap. 8. Remember, a lot of times trading is not directly one-to-one. A gives to B who gives to C who gives to A. There's plenty to go around. There's going to be a LOT of stuff coming to the swap and it's all going to have to leave with someone. The only traders who leave disappointed are the ones who insisted on one-to-one even-steven trades. 9. If you're a newbie and you see something that's new to you, ask what it is. We're happy to share our experience, and our hostas and our physostegias and our rudbeckias.... 10. Please come at the opening time if possible and expect to stay for a while. You'll need that long if you plan on talking to EVERYONE. Plus, we have all those brownie breaks. 11. Free for all is after lunch. Anything not traded or gifted before lunch must be taken home by anyone who even looks at it. If you ask a question, you get two. 12. If the police show up (they usually do) do not offer them Cleome. Offer them brownies. 13. Remember to HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Fall 2001 - Temple Hills church - Mary
Spring 2002 - (Centennial Park in Howard County ?) - ?
Fall 2002 - Black Hills Regional Park - Alfie
Spring 2003 - Laurel's house in Baltimore Co. - Cynthia or Laurel
Fall 2003 - Sandy Springs Friends School - Professor Dirt and ChrisMD
Spring 2004 PG County (Oxon Hill)?
Fall 2004 - Sandy Springs Friends School - Professor Dirt
Spring 2005 Black Hills Regional Park?
Fall 2005 - Sandy Springs Friends School - Professor Dirt
Spring 2006 - Burtonsville - GardenGranma
Fall 2006 - Aquasco near Waldorf - Vlad
Spring 2007 - Burtonsville - Gardengramma
Fall 2007 - Black Hills Regional Park - Avoirgold
Spring 2008 - Burtonsville - Gardengramma
Fall 2008 - Black Hills Regional Park - Avoirgold
Spring 2009 - Burtonsville Gardengramma
Fall 2009 Black Hills Regional Park - Alfie