As we approach the end of 2018, it is an excellent time for school and community gardens to request donations from seed companies. Many seed companies throughout the United States donate free seeds to support school and community gardens. Each company handles requests for seed donations differently— some provide a form for gardens to fill out, and others may request a letter or email. Therefore, it is important to research how to submit the request for each particular company. Some companies require the request to come from a 501c3 organization. Often, you can find out this information on the company’s FAQ page on their website or by calling their customer service number.
Writing the donation request letter
A donation request letter is an excellent tool to approach seed companies either through mail or email for seeds. Here are several components to include in your request letter to the companies:
- Address the letter to a specific person. You may need to call the company to find out the correct person to address the letter to.
- Introduce yourself and your garden. Talk about the number of people that participate in the garden. If you have any other data you can provide, such as pounds harvested last year, hours worked in the garden, etc., include this in the letter as well.
- Explain how the seeds will be distributed and used among the gardeners.
- Ask for specific seeds, for example, warm or cool season. Be sure to include your zone.
- Thank the company for their time and express appreciation for whatever resources they can contribute.
- Give your contact information in case the company needs any follow up information.
- While some seed companies donate throughout the year, other companies donate at the end and beginning of the calendar year as they change out their stock. The end of the year is a great time to request seed donations.
- Some companies may send you whatever seeds they have on hand. For a list of vegetable varieties that grow well in Florida gardens see http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep486.
- Keep track of the in-kind monetary amount of the donation you receive from each company. This is excellent information to use when you are telling the story of your garden in grants or other donation requests.
- You can divide up the contents of the seed packets into smaller quantities so they can be distributed to more gardeners. If you do this, be sure to include the vegetable/variety information and date on each package so gardeners know what they are receiving.
- For information on how to test the germination rate for older seeds, see this blog post https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/pascoco/2017/08/24/using-old-seeds/.