Community group swaps produce to fight inflation
Just Ripe NZ, the community forum where people can swap, sell and share freshly grown produce is springing up in many regions with the Hamilton group proving very successful.
The fresh produce initiative was launched last summer by Auckland woman Katie Lynch, who is encouraging Hamiltonians to continue to support one another by swapping or selling any surplus they have.
She says the need and the benefits are very real, with fresh vegetable prices leading food price inflation in the latest official New Zealand statistics.
She dreams of suburbs holding local market days and neighbours coming together and exchanging excess fruit and veges.
“If we all grew a couple of different types of veges there would be a huge variety. It would save money, bring people together, encourage more to have a go at growing gardens and encourage healthy eating,” she said.
Katie knows first-hand about the challenges families face affording fresh produce.
She runs Busy Happy Kids where she shares resources and information to help families cook and grocery shop on a budget.
To check if the tips she gives to her 17,000 followers are doable, her family of four at one time lived on a $70 food budget for seven days.
She said the biggest struggle they had was a decrease in the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables they were able to afford.
“I happened to see a huge mandarin tree over my neighbour’s fence. It was absolutely loaded with fruit but they were just falling off and rotting. I thought what a waste,” she said. “Those fruits would be so helpful for families struggling to live on low income.”
Katie, a mother of two, decided to set up a marketplace via social media for members to share ideas and tips on how to grow fruits and vegetables and barter excess with fellow members.
“It’s a concept aimed at all New Zealanders, bringing together local communities which we seem to have lost in recent years and eating more organic, home-grown produce,” she said.
Just Ripe NZ is open to everyone.
“If you have excess fruit and veges, write a post and state your location and what you have,” she said.
She hopes there will be more likeminded individuals who will volunteer to get additional groups set up and plans to link with food banks and community organisations to access more families that are in need.
She also encourages schools to get on board and have gardens set up for the children to tend.
“Its really amazing to see parents getting out in the garden and teaching their children about fruit and veges, knowing that kids are able to access home grown produce is very satisfying,” she said.
Polystyrene containers are the perfect size for smaller spaces, or for kids to have their own garden.
Potatoes growing in planter bags.
Lettuce and herbs growing in plastic milk bottles.