Food Swaps are local gatherings where people swap excess homegrown produce and gardening extras. Items may include fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, seeds, seedlings, gardening tips and worm juice, but may easily extend to skills shares, stories and seasonal recipes.
Swaps are generally money free and run on an honesty system. Swappers bring their produce and then ‘shop’ from the table of goods left by others. The exchange should be a fair reflection of what has been given i.e. eggs for lemons and seeds for stories.
Why: To share delicious food, create friendships, build stronger communities, reduce waste and provide a grass roots response to food access issues.
One gardener’s glut is another gardener’s lunch!
All around Australia, fruit and vegie swaps are taking off like never before, and they offer a real solution for that lorry load of lemons going to waste at your place. These are generally non-commercial events (meaning no money changes hands), and many “fruit and vegie” swaps will allow you to swap other types of items as well, from worm wee to chutney, chook poo to cackleberries. Sustainable Gardening Australia has kicked off a series of fruit and vegie “swap meets”, an opportunity for the gardeners of Melbourne to meet once a month, share their extra produce with people who will appreciate it, and swap their bounty of broccoli for another grower’s excess of eggplants!
As SGA “Fearless Leader” Mary Trigger explains: “This is a giant step forward towards urban sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint and getting involved with the community. And what better way to meet other keen gardeners, swap your produce, reduce waste and have a yarn.” Part of the SGA Neighbourhood Gardening Groups project, PODS (Productive, Organic, Diverse, Sustainable), the SGA Fruit and Vegie Swaps are free, and all gardeners are encouraged to attend. Afterall, one gardeners’ glut is another gardeners’ lunch!
Simply Food Swaps
Turning lemons into pumpkins isn’t as tricky as it sounds. There’s no divine intervention required, no incantation to recite, and absolutely no genie involved. All that’s needed is to swap your excess lemons with someone else’s excess pumpkins. Simple, really.
And like so many simple ideas, swapping food is a craze that’s catching on. In the last three years, there’s been a surge in the number of people turning up at scheduled ‘food swaps’ around the country.
A place for people to trade their home-grown surplus with other backyard growers, food swaps are a relatively straightforward affair. Each has a place to meet on a regular basis, a table for swapping and a handful of volunteers to keep it running. What you won’t find at most swaps, however, is a rule book dictating the worth of your items, guaranteed supply of a particular produce, or money changing hands.
With no set prices to refer to, it’s up to swappers to decide for themselves what constitutes a fair exchange. “One of the funny things that people find hard to get used to is that it’s not a straight swap for anything,” says Chris Ennis, the organic farm manager at CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies), home ofMelbourne’s first food swap – Urban Orchard. “It’s a take what you feel, and what you feel is right situation … Often the problem is getting people to take enough.”