SLV Seed Exchange celebrating food sovereignty, self-reliance, and community


SAGUACHE COUNTY —The 14th Annual San Luis Valley Seed Exchange is gearing up for a fantastic event on March 30 and 31. This event continues to be an important community gathering to share seeds, knowledge, and enthusiasm for promoting the mission of making our community more resilient and food secure.

The SLV Seed Exchange is at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa in Saguache County. The gathering offers many opportunities for attendees to engage in the vibrant local food, gardening, and agricultural communities of the San Luis Valley. Activities will start at 10 a.m. each day, and end at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The event is a cornerstone of the region's commitment to sustainability, biodiversity, and community resilience. This year's event continues the tradition with an exciting lineup of educational speakers, vendors, and attractions for plant and gardening enthusiasts. This year’s theme is “Wild Foods & Medicines of the Valley.”

Jae Sanders, executive director of the seed exchange told the Valley Courier the exchange began in Saguache County, "Where neighbors showed up and brought their seeds and they went through them, traded and brought them home. That tradition has been kept alive, now it is just a much bigger event. The community can come, bring their seeds, leave them on the tables and people can collect whatever they want and bring them home. This is a great, big seed swap."

"One of the things I and the board want to highlight is, we think there should be more food and seed sovereignty in the region. That is why I have been doing this for six years, I want our community to have access to food and have that food grown here. This is really about enabling, inspiring and educating people on providing for themselves and their community," said Sanders.

"That is what this event is about. This is a great opportunity to lift up food production and help our neighbors by sharing. That is why this event is free, the educational speakers are free.

"Food sovereignty is a big deal; we need to support our local farmers and ranchers if we want to have any say in our food system. I'm a local farmer-rancher advocate and the local foods coalition has done a lot to support the seed exchange."

The event is free and there will be vendors selling food related items-and food will be available for purchase.

Sanders is grateful to the many supporters and sponsors of the event including Joyful Journey Hot Springs, Saguache County, San Luis Valley REC Energy Foundation, Saguache County Tourism Council, Crestone Energy Fair, Mountainside Realty and, the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition.

"It takes a community to put this on, and this builds the community that is out there. This is about the community connections that get made and the chance interactions people have. Everyone just loves it, they bump into neighbors they haven’t seen, and share seeds, this is a niche group; people who are gardening, or growing food. This is just a really sweet event."

Highlights of this year's event include:

  • Local Vendors: Explore a variety of offerings from local artisans, growers, and producers showcasing the best of what the San Luis Valley has to offer. Sanders said she expects to have between 25 and 30 vendors.
  • Food Options: Enjoy delicious food offerings crafted from locally sourced ingredients, highlighting the rich flavors of the region.
  • Seed Swap Table: Participate in the time-honored tradition of exchanging seeds, fostering biodiversity, and promoting the preservation of heirloom varieties.
  • Door Prizes: Anyone in attendance is eligible for a chance to win exciting prizes generously provided by event sponsors and supporters.
  • Speaker Series: Dig into the theme of "Wild Foods & Medicines of the Valley" with engaging presentations from eight knowledgeable speakers, offering insights into the rich botanical heritage of the region. Spanish interpretation will be available for the speaker series happening in the yurt.

Sanders said she is excited that this year the event will have eight speakers including the following:

  • Dr. Kristy L. Duran is a sixth-generation native to the San Luis Valley. As a professor at Colorado Mesa University, she worked with the CSU Extension Office to create the Ute Ethnobotany Garden and will speak about plants and ethnobotany of the San Luis Valley. Duran also taught at Adams State University and is currently on the faculty at Metropolitan State University in Denver.
  • Tylor Berreth is a mycologist who owns Saguache-based Alpine Valley Mushrooms with his wife Danielle. Tylor will speak about Wild Mushrooms in the San Luis Valley.
  • Teresa de Jesús Vigil is a rural herbal practitioner who is familiar with natural healing methods traditional in the upper Rio Grande bioregion. She will speak about Reflections on Herbal Use by Our Ancestors. Sanders said she is looking forward to recording de Jesús Vigil and it may be the first time anyone has recorded her.
  • The seed exchange will include a Community Sharing Hour: Take the stage and share your passion, projects, or announcements with fellow attendees during this interactive session dedicated to community engagement and collaboration.
  • Discount Soaking at Joyful Journey: The event program contains a $2 coupon for soaking at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa.

The organizers of the seed exchange are actively seeking sponsors. Various sponsorship levels are available, providing businesses and organizations the chance to show their support for community-based initiatives and sustainable agriculture. For sponsorship inquiries, contact Ame Warner at 719-207-2597 or via email at

Volunteers are needed to help throughout the event. To sign up as a volunteer or vendor or for more information, reach out to Sanders at 575-999-5319 or

For those interested in becoming the Executive Director of the San Valley Seed Exchange, email Sanders at the email address above.

Stay informed about the latest updates regarding speakers, sponsors, and vendors by visiting The San Luis Valley Seed Exchange is a nonprofit and donations can be made via their website or at the seed exchange event.