A small com­mu­nity has set up a cash­less swap meet that trades in fruit and veg

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE - ALEX SPEED

meet and share our ex­cess, and the idea sort of grew roots and flour­ished from there.

“The con­cept is sim­ple. Pro­vide a time and a space and ask peo­ple to bring along some home­grown pro­duce, put in on the back of the truck, take some off. If you don’t have some to bring ev­ery week that’s fine. You can still take some.”

One year on, the event has be­come much more than well-mean­ing gar­den­ers shar­ing their abun­dance, she says. Part farm­ers mar­ket, part so­cial catch-up, Robert­son’s crop swap is rid­ing the wave of a global zeit­geist as sim­i­lar home­grown ex­changes sprout from Kiama to Mel­bourne, from Taranaki, New Zealand, to Nashville, Ten­nessee, and Or­ange County, Cal­i­for­nia, in the US.

As the name sug­gests, the event is an ex­change of goods. Money never changes hands, nor is any con­sid­er­a­tion given to value or weight of what is given or taken, Lim says.

And while the byprod­uct of such an event is “grow­ing and eat­ing lo­cal”, and “em­pow­er­ing lo­cal peo­ple to take their back­yard gar­dens se­ri­ously be­cause at heart we can all grow things and be farm­ers”, the real ben­e­fits go much deeper.

Lim says each mar­ket is help­ing build com­mu­nity co­he­sion, with re­la­tion­ships forged over a love of fruit and veg­eta­bles pro­vid­ing a sense of com­mu­nity con­nect­ed­ness and be­long­ing.

“Crop swap is as much a so­cial out­ing as it is a pub­lic-health ini­tia­tive, although I don’t re­ally go around an­nounc­ing ‘oh, crop swap is a pub­lic health ini­tia­tive’, but to me that’s an im­por­tant part of it,” Lim says. “It’s a byprod­uct that ac­tu­ally be­comes the main thing. There are some nice par­al­lels with yoga.

“Many peo­ple ini­tially ap­proach yoga as a purely phys­i­cal prac­tice be­cause they want a yoga body. But what they ac­tu­ally end up with is an amaz­ing sense of well­be­ing on so many lev­els.

“Crop swap is a bit like that. Peo­ple come in through an av­enue they can un­der­stand: to swap their veg­eta­bles. But that is the tip of the ice­berg. From these reg­u­lar meet­ings, con­nec­tions and friend­ships and re­la­tion­ships are made, and then other pos­i­tive things flow on from that.

“We are only a pop­u­la­tion of just un­der 2000 here so you can feel like ‘yes I know every­one in this town’. But there are many peo­ple who have lived here for many, many years, and may not know that many peo­ple. You can still meet some­one who comes along to crop swap and you have never bumped into them there and sud­denly it’s like ‘ aaah. How long have you lived here?’ In our first year of crop swap I feel like I was the host at a party.

“To me, mak­ing good in­tro­duc­tions to peo­ple and in­tro­duc­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers to each other is re­ally im­por­tant. Every­one around here has an amaz­ing story to tell and the im­por­tant thing to do is to draw them out, and help them share them. Not just with me but with every­one.”

Back­yard gar­dener Pip Ham­mond is a lo­cal pri­mary school teacher and crop-swap reg­u­lar.

“I think it’s the com­mu­nity as­pect which so ap­peal­ing to this crop swap,” Ham­mond says. “It’s not just about go­ing and do­ing your own thing in your own gar­den any more, it’s about bring­ing along what­ever you like and shar­ing, swap­ping knowl­edge and catch­ing up over a cof­fee.

“Some morn­ings there are only a hand­ful and other times there can be many here. Ev­ery­thing is grown lo­cally by peo­ple who love their gar­dens and noth­ing is ever wasted. So as well as be­ing a great ini­tia­tive, it’s al­ways a great place to be on a Satur­day morn­ing if you are around for an hour.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.