About 15 gardeners came together to swap heirloom vegetable seeds on a rainy afternoon in Whanganui.

The gathering on September 8 was smaller than usual, organiser Angela Tinnion said.

The seed swap has been an annual event for at least seven years, and some years the room at the Quaker Meeting House is full.

As usual, Heritage Food Crops Research Trust founder Mark Christensen brought so many corn, bean, tomato and pumpkin seeds that they needed a whole table.

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There were new people this year, including some who had moved to Whanganui from Auckland and wanted to find varieties that grow well here. Some seemed embarrassed they had no seeds to share, Tinnion said, but there was no problem with that.

Christensen had brought chickpea (garbanzo bean) seeds and said each pod contained just one bean. Tinnion has wanted to try growing them, but thought they needed a warmer climate.

"I'm going to give it a go," she said.

"It will be a novelty crop. I don't expect to be eating chickpeas all winter."