Let's improve the serendipity seed swap (EU)

No, that wouldn’t make a difference initially. It would be just 2 packages that increase weight independently from each other. Might even increase initial weight if people take less seeds from package they have when they know another is coming their way, but maybe it doesn’t make difference either way. Still having more packages might be useful time wise at some point, but I wouldn’t have them go from opposite ends, but instead go same way and the other starts from somewhere in the middle. At some point there would need to be some separation between recently added seeds and those that have gone through a round so that there isn’t too much extra weight for seeds that everybody has had a change take from. Those could go around new members (so just take from package, not add new) or sent to organizations that would be interested to pass them along.

Favas definetely might be better if they had their own package or have direct exchange. Other heavier seeds there are so many different that if you separated corn, you would need to separate heavier squash, peas and many more. Some smaller favas might be in the same range, but on average they are quite significantly heavier than anything that comes to mind. Some other beans maybe, but if there aren’t too much of them it wouldn’t make sense to separate them. Favas seem to be quite popular.

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We were commenting on the European seed swap how we can improve the system and make it better. Maybe this can applied to all the seeds swap If we see that it is an improvement.


For my part I want to increase the frequency of the seed swap, for the people to have a go to the package more frequently. While maintaining the decentralized part of it. Other thing that I want to improve is the linearity of the package, you mostly receive seed from previous persons and not from the forward persons. And other advantages that I found is that we pay almost half of the price for shipping it is an extra and not my priority. Other thing I want to improve is security, I no not like to have all the eggs in the same basket, in this case only one package.

How we can achieve that? I call it two ways swap (name still pending to choose). That is to do two trains, one for each direction, we call right and left package with some extra bonus of having “basic kit seeds” and a way to deload the package.

I was thinking that would be nice to do two trains, one for each direction. You got the right swap and you got the left swap.

Lets say there are 18 people in the swap, like in the European swap.


One package will go to the right, and the other package will go to the left.

Right package → 1->2->3->4…->18->1->2…
It goes ascending, when arrives to the final person, it goes back to the beginning.

Left package 1->18->17->16…->1->18->17->…
It goes descending, when arrives to the final person, it goes back to the beginning.

You got the drill.

What things are different? We up the packages going around by one. We change the direction of the second package and we gain of flexibility and reduce the time and shipping for the seeds to go to all the people.

This way of replenish these two way packages is that instead putting all your seeds in one package you separate in two bags. One for the right package and one for the left package. The frequency of receiving and sending the package is double. Lets do the math later, but for all the people you pay half of the price for shipping the seeds.

Other thing that this system improves is reduce the impact of the left neighbors on the seed swap. Now you got two packages and you get two neighbors, you receive seeds from both ends. The position on the queue affects which seeds you receive, with this system, the effect is reduced to half.

The seeds have to travel half of the distance, instead of going to 1-18 people, it goes to 1-9 and 1-8. With this, the seeds have to travel less distance, pay half for the shipping and goes twice as fast,

Hi Jessel, i’m only human.
Why can’t it start on both ends? Or from one place. One with heavy seeds (beans and cucurbitacea and maybe corn family) and one with lighter stuff and new varieties and crosses.
And another thing, my idea for splitting came up because the hivemind ‘thought’ above 2 kilo’s would be much more expensive. But maybe it’s only fantasy… Everybody should check, because for now it’s Spain only. But Spain is three people on Mallorca , a tiny island that come together. So in a way, until people come with unreasonable postage fees above two kilo’s there is no real problem. As far as i can see.
Maybe there are other reasons to make it a two tier system, like seed drying time and being sursprised twice.
But for me, most diversity is spread now. Like not enormous changes are going to happen between now and next season. Maybe somebody will find an amazing crossed plant and we’ll all want seed from that one to add to our grexes, but i don’t need like all varieties of Thomas his pumpkins again or Richard’s numerous melon varieties, because i got them, am growing them very succesfully (hope so) and other people got them growing. And will share that grex.
Maybe i’m just talking how i think this works and should work and it’s a bunch of nonsense and we’ll just carry on piling up kilos of seeds and sending them around. Any which way or the other, it’s totally worth it to me. And i hope you’ll be happily surprised too!

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It seems more organized when they go the same direction. No need to worry which package should go which way. Those packages will also cross two times a round so same person is likely to get both within a short period. I know in any case this system isn’t going to be perfect. Some seeds might be taken within a short period, and with so many people in the line, some seeds are enough only for a few people. There could be mixes where people mix seeds of certain species in one pag. This way it’s more likely that everyone get’s seeds from more varied sources. It has the disadvantage that some seeds might be overprecented. Or if you want to separate for different seasons/purposes.

Another option is completely abandon this type of merry-go-round and centralize whole thing. Instead people would send seeds for a central hub where they would be mixed by species and use/season, divided and sent back. That would have it’s own problems. For example then you would have to know what everyone is interested in and how much they could use. This could be solved by having a form where everyone could mark which mix they are interested and maybe some scale of need. 1 could be little and 5 high need. It has some work, but at the same it has some pros too.

In any case there will probably be seeds that also never run out, like some of the species that make a lot of small seeds. Those don’t affect the weight in a significant way, but they would make it messy if there are lot’s of packs that would be enough for 1000 farmers. Or in the last option, people would get more than they need if everything is mixed and sent. Would need some method dispersing seeds that there are too much to be shared within this community.

It’s so interesting to follow people’s ideas on how to improve our seed chain further. It makes me grateful to be part of this community.

I quickly lose overview when people try to come to consensus on things through text. So in service of greater overview, I like to summarize what I hear:

Weight limit

  • I’m hearing suggestions to perhaps leave out certain types of heavy seed (fava, pumpkin)
  • Or branch the chain into two separate (one heavy-seeded, one with everything else)
  • I hear reflections on whether we need to consider the weight as much as we’ve done, whether the 2 kg limit is a “ghost need” that somehow emerged during this thread. I hear our Spanish friends are the only ones so far identified with a significant price jump around 2 kg, but that at least Richard doesn’t mind it … And, if such is the case, we could perhaps let it go a kilo or two more, in any case until members begin to protest.

Personally, I’d like to define a boundary where we accept that people don’t need to ship above that - at least eventually. I’m enjoying this seed chain so much and for now get ten folds back than the price of shipping the package. But I also like the inclusive nature of it. I’d like to invite anyone who has ideas of where they’d like the upper postage limit to be to say so, if they have a limit in mind.

The idea of a more organized initiative

I also hear ideas about a more organized effort to share seed inside EU - perhaps a goal for 2024? I think we should start a separate thread to begin discussing that!

The beauty of PM

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite everyone in the line to PM the one who’s before and after themself, when it gets closer to the time for them to receive the package. You will need to establish contact in any case to exchange addresses etc. I think the experience so far shows that people are much more likely to respond to PM than being pinged in the thread. So can we make this general rule of thumb? → PM the one who’s before and after yourself, when you’re one of the next in line for the package


Thanks for summarising Malte. That helps me understanding the main points.
On a side note, but connected to this, I personnally find difficulties understanding and expressing nuances in english so, apart from very specific topics, I do not make too much efforts to get it. It is too much. So keeping it simple is a value to me. And I would tend to agree with what is chosen by the community, even if I do not get all the details, remarks, etc.

I think that if we are going to change something it should be for the better.

It would be a shame (at least for me), since they are one of the species that I am looking for more genetic diversity. They also seem to me to be species that can provide a lot of food with relatively little effort.

I do not mind at all. For the cost, I got a lot of diversity, similar as If I am buying packets from a shop. Maybe next time Tanja sends the packet? or we just split the price.

Well if we follow the rule that you take the same as you remove it, the package should remain the same.

I was thinking about something like https://fallingfruit.org/ , but for people sharing seeds. Thomas Picard says that there is this “semeur.fr” for french people.

I have done quite a lot of seed exchanges peer to peer or person to person, and you do not get the same amount of seed diversity than this serendipity.

Yes, I think this is a super great idea, sometimes it takes some days to get a response from the receiver. And also apart from the address you should put the phone number, at least here to send the tracked package is obligatory.
Another recommendation is prepare the seeds beforehand, and when you receive the package you only need to put it there.


What do you want to improve with two packages in the same direction? You do not gain much with that.

I sense that when the package reaches me, the seeds of the person on my right will no longer be there.

When I commented two packages for two direction I wanted to accomplish two thing. Improving the data system of round robin by reducing the time that seeds takes to arrive to the people and reduce the shipping cost. I will run some number in another post.

I do not think is a good idea to do for seed share. I like a lot the decentralized nature of this round robin package. If you do that you double the shipping cost by almost two with a centralized system.

But Richard, in the second round you’ll have those too, it’s coming your way. Hopefully you will grow a very diverse grex out and then you’ll have more seeds than you can handle, for the pumpkins almost sure, the favas and beans less, but who knows?
We’ll see, if people still want or need the heavy seeds.
But normally it is to be expected that more of us get more diversity, then we could in theory by moving the package around a bit more logically per country put smaller amounts of the heavy seeds. We could put an order. For instance my Maxima’s are a big failure next year, then i could say i need 15 grams of the Maxima grex, and Thomas or Isabelle or anybody close to me who had a good year can add that. But if my Maximas do great i could be that person people ask.
In this way we could have a lighter package. But it could also be a terrible head ache for ten euro’s more or less. I prefer just to pay. But this is about everybody, not just me, so we talk about it a bit.
It’s just talking a little bit about how we could make it smoother in future. I like your idea of sending from two ends smaller packages. But i think it should go in a circle through Europe, because otherwise at the same time it will come to France and i have to send two directions. I’ll have to make an animation about it. Spend two weeks learning to animate to save 5 euro packaging. No good plan.
Another factor to keep doing it like we have been is that new people come in the seed swap and Going to Seed , who need to get the “basic kit seeds” as well. So then we just need to load up…
But in three years if we are 50 thousand mad landracers we’ll be driving a bigger van than the Kokopelli seed truck.

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I like numbers and comparing stuff base on data. This has touched my decentralized data algorithm background.

1- The system how is now. A round robin system with a direction. I base the information like a cpu scheduling algorithms.

Lets say I got a 1 kg of melon seeds to share, we are 18 people now and increasing, and it takes 10€ to send the package.

I want to send a 1 kg of melon seeds to all 18. Lets remove myself 18-1 that is me so 17 people. Instead a 1 kg, lets make it numbers pretty, so 1,7 kg of melon seeds.

17 people, I have to send 1,7 kg of melon seeds, and it cost me 17€.
First person me send the package, 1,7kg, 17€ second people remove 100g and send it again, so 1,6kg so 16€ and so and so.
Price for shipping is 17+16+15+…1 = 152€, you use the triangular number function x(x+1)/2. It says the anecdote by a young boy name Carl Friedrich Gauss that he discovered when the school teacher make him starting to count numbers pointless.

That is the ideal world, but the reality is not that pretty, probably that 1,7 kg is not there and the people last on the list did not receive any seed from my melons, or when the package arrives only very few seeds remains.

My recommendation is base on decentralized systems and trying to improving the round robin separation of tasks that is sending the packages the cost of it and improving the time to arrive.

So If we want to improve this decentralized system and we want to send the seeds to all the people, faster, cheaper, safer we need to increase the number of packages send.

Now that I have thought about it, I think it is a very good way to improve the system.

First of all, I want the security to increase, two packages instead of one. If the package is lost or damaged in transit you got another “save box” with all that genetic diversity. If not, we do not want to lose everything in case of disaster. Touching wood. Yes, we can create the package again, but I like to prepare for the worst, expect the best, and take what comes.

Lets run the same numbers but now with two packages in two different locations like before.
2- Lets say I got a 1,7 kg of melon seeds to share, we are 17 people now and it takes 1€ for every 100g to send the package, and now I can send two packages instead of one. One package in every direction. You got the right package and you got the left package, lets name like that to be catchy.

Right package like now. Lets send half of it.
First person me send the package to the right 9 people, so 0,9kg so 9 euros. The other ones send the package to the right, you now the drill, 8 people remanging so 8 euros, then 7 euros… calculating with triangular number function.
So price for right shipping is 9+8+7+6+…+1= 45€.
Lets do the same but for the left package.
So if we add 45+36= 81€
Lets compare that with the previous system.
152€ vs 81€, lets do a %, (81/152)*100 =53,29%
It is almost double the price, only sending one package instead of sending two packages.

You got like double efficiency, half of the time, half of the price.

It remembers a lot of the pattern of the bees recollecting the nectar, going to the farthest away instead of the near flowers.

If It was me to organize the swap, I will do two threads, this one for the right package, the system like now will not change at all, so it is backwards compatible. And the I create a new post about the left packaging, that is a mirror like this one, but the only thing that we require to change is the order of the people, and it would be the opposite that now.

Mmm, not like that. It is more like you are in two seed swaps. You receive a package and send it to clockwise, the right package. And another time you receive another package and send it to anticlockwise the left package. In reality you are sending to two different people, and the seeds are different on both packages. Yes you are sending the same seeds to both ways. But not everybody will receive the package at the same time, only one person for round and possibly not even that. When that happens planets align and we go to the expert mode that try to solve the new people coming and basic kit seeds, i will talk about it later in the post.

It is not obligatory to send it two ways or be part of both right and left packages. The right package is like now. And then you get the extra one in another topic, left serendipity seed swap. Now we are 18, but If we continue growing, one package will not be enough, or even two. It will be lovely.

Yes I thought about it too but I do not have it so curdled like the two way system. And also creating a system to remove envelopes of seeds that everybody has already put his hand on.
It is a bit of expert mode here I do not think it is finished and has all the ends tied up… So I want to continue the decentralized system and make it more robust.

So when the planets align and you get or any person the two packages, left and right, you are now the creator of the “basic kit seeds”. You compare the two packages and get the seeds that are in both packages. Those seeds have passed through everyone’s hands, and should send to the new people.

In this case, you put the seeds that are on both packages now are on the “basic kit seeds”.
And when a new person arrives we send that package to them.

I still do not have a clear answer for this algorithm problem and I’ll think about it but there are a couple of ways or thinks to fix.

There is two options now. There is no new people on the swap or there is newbies/freshman around.

First option is just us, no new people, the creator of the “basic kit seeds” pull apart those seeds from the package and hold that package for the freshman. (This basic kit seeds can also used for people that want another go to the past seeds). And when the time is ready he sends it to the freshman. So he can get the seeds earlier. This new freshman holds “basic kit seeds” until one of the right or left package arrives.

The second and other option is that there is new people on the circle. This case only happens on the beginning that we are now, and not everybody has got the pleasure check the packages.

Here we got a couple of options relative on how the freshman are to the both package man.

If the freshman is on the right of the packages we put the “basic kit seeds” on the right package and send it to him. If the contrary can happens, we put the “basic kit seeds” on the left package and send it to him. Can be also send the “basic kit seeds” directly to him. These tree options will be decided on how the freshman is on the roster for “the two trains, one for each direction”, depending on how is he on the roster, is near to one end or just in the middle. If he is near to one of the ends, we can just deliver both packages together (this happens relatively rarely).

With this method one of the packages or both is filtered with already selected seeds.

Then now the freshman has “basic kit seeds” and new seeds. If the freshman got one of the right or left packages, also got the way to introduce his seeds, or just has to wait until one of the packages arrive to him.

Something like that, almost finished. I have to think more about it. We now got a way to filter the packages, and we got a “basic kit seeds” for the new people. We are left with the part of interacting with both. The decentralized nature makes the system not depend on a centralized party, and we optimize package size, deliveries and minimize time.

The “basic kit seeds” can be send earlier to the freshman, and the freshman can also get the others packages when is his time.

Haha Richard! The stars alined, you said nothing about the seed truck!

But seriously, explain me this.
Point 1. How is a package going around in a circle centralized? Explanation in one sentence please, i only have a small old brain.

It’ll be top heavy therefore 2 packages so we get to stay under 2 kilo. But that’s only because of Spanish post so far why we even talk of this. So far, until maybe other people start to say it’s crazy in my country too with the exponential costs…

Newcomer problem… Also fictional problem… Everybody starts at the same time the following season…

Now listen to this, whoever has the most diverse Fabaceae harvest, so beans and favas, kicks off the first round in whichever country they are in whatever direction they feel like, with the country group they are in, where it should go next, or if somebody has very good reason to say : “Hey!! My country should be next, because my sister’s goat is having babies and her dog is sick, i’m going to help her, send it now…”

Point 2. That makes it a bit of a challenge who has the most diverse… not superserious macho competition , but just like wow, i was lucky this year, no snails, perfect weather, this year we get to kick off the first round…just a bit of fun and healthy group bonding blabla (total macho life or death competition in secret)
Point 3. The Cucurbitacea, i don’t want to open them all immediately those pumpkins and butternuts, they get better in time, and i want to select for how long they keep.
So then that brings in the who has the most diversity element as well, they can start the second round.
Point 4. That divides the weight equally over two packages if things don’t change too much

The situation now is as follows.

Fabaceae 530 g
Cucurbitaceae I 390g
Cucurbitaceae II 350g
Other 250g
Amarathacea 180g
Corn 140g
Asteracea 130g
Solanoideae 80g
Grain 80g
Oddball herbs and weird obscurities 50g

I think Fabaceae package will grow next year and after Polarca.
And Cucurbitaceae less, because they’re easier crossers and big yielders, you have them, you have them forever if you find a farmer with a dung pile or horse training factory thing.
Corn, (how you say this classy?), will be much more as well, if we get better separating popcorn from sweetcorn from graincorn and not mixing everything up in future…
The rest will double abouts i think and hope.
But ok that’s just my biased prognosis, my main points remain… About timing and splitting in two.



Brilliant analysis, polarca agrees with most points. Maybe the only thing I disagree with is that Cucurbitaceae would not explode in the future. I think there is so much recombination going on in cucurbits that it will always be interesting, I meant thrilling to get mre cucurbits even if you drown in your own seed stock with no hope of sowing a single newcomer, and yet most of us will want to pile up. Or perhaps just me. And you won’t be able to resist my cukes next year either.

Add in radishes which are coming I promise. Not this year but next. Expect that, count on that. Unless all hell breaks loose on my end. Some tragedy must happen for me not to have something very exciting in the pipeline for 2025.

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Thank you kindly Cathy, i hope Malte Rod can make it into a more organised synthesis like he did above. That makes things better understandable. So we can move forward as a group.

You’ll understand the Cucurbitaceae story better maybe when the package reaches you, Thomas put one complete pack full and Richard dumped loads, and me a fair bit as well and everybody else added. So receivers should take it and grex it all up.
You can send some result of that grex in the next seed train come 2025, of course and add some new diversity we stumbled upon others don’t have yet. But we’ll have merged the bulk of the diversity.

Anyway, that’s me making my point, maybe you’re right and it will bloat. But that makes it all the more reason to spearhead around these two heavy weighing groups to cut costs down. (If we need to…)

I’m not sure I could summarize the last the torrent of ideas this time. Seems @polarca understood though. Either way, it seems people are generally happy with how the chain is dispersing all the goodness around time. We’ve made some adjustments and innovations along the way, grown as a group and have the first draft ideas for new ways of exchanging seed.

I propose to let those new ideas simmer or continue developing them in a separate thread. When the topic begins to shift, I believe it’s important to branch the conversation. Ideas for a complementary chain (“left or right” or independent regional chains) is such a shift of topic, because it would need its own thread anyway. Then the ideas can go through a couple more iterations of feedback and comments before a clear invitation can be made to the community. Anyone wants to start that thread? I’d join the conversation.

Unfortunately you made a little mistake in your calculations which is why you got around 50% decrease. You sent the package only to half of the people compared to one package. Your example only would work if you want to share certain seeds with a croup, but serendipity don’t work that way. It would have to go from one end to other from both directions (same also if two packages went same way). Otherwise there is no cross-over between the two croups that received package. Easier way is to think is that you will send the same weight whether there it is one or two packages (assuming that people will take and add same in both cases). There might be little increase in cost with two packages due to smaller packages costing more relative to weight, but can’t say if it would make a difference. Also in time there would not be savings as it still hava to go from one end to the other. Another thing is would there be something left for the last in line as after packages cross there wouldn’t be anything to add, unless people would put the seeds they have to share half and half to both packages. I’m not saying dividing wouldn’t be a good idea, but there aren’t that kind of advantages to cost or time.

Hard to do the math as there are too many unknown variables, but it’s likely it would be a little cheaper, but might not make a huge difference. With package going round you are always sending lot of extra weight. For example if the package is 2kg and people take and add 0.5kg each time, everyone is sending 1,5kg extra each time. You certainly save from distance, but distance doesn’t increase price that much. But it would certainly add to the diversity people get. One thing to consider is that how well serendipity works when there will be more people. Package has now travelled 3 months and to my calculation has reached around 10 people (atleast after France). If in the future there are 50 people or more how would it work? I’m just thinking ahead with centralized system. That’s something that already is done in the US with GTS seeds.

Sure, where is the mistake? I send the package to 9 people to the right, and the package to the left to 8 people. That is 17 people excluding myself. All the people had a go to the package. The trick here is that we can get 50% decrease is that the seeds only have to travel half of the distance. We separate 17 people in two packages and there is a decrease. We have to take in mind that the packages decrease the weight at double rate, so we get the advantage from that, and pay half for the delivery.

Of course this an example of only on iteration. I was assuming that was a given that right and left package continue doing the same algorithm with the remaining people.

The function of these two way packages is that instead putting all your seeds in one package you separate in two bags. One for the right and one for the left package. A all the other things are sorted out.

You get one of the packages and just put your seeds in there, you get the other one and put the other seeds. Those packages contain different seeds yes, but you get a go to both packages every round as the same rate as now as one package. Instead of receiving one package, you receive two package, lets say every year, you get quantitative less seeds every time but more frequently, and half of the price.

I will create one tonight if is not already started.
… Well already created here

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Hehe, I expect to that truck to arrive to Mallorca.

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