Com­mu­nity group swaps pro­duce to fight inflation

Hamilton News - - COMMUNITY - Louela Rosal Pe­garido ■ To date, groups have been set up in sev­eral dif­fer­ent re­gions. In Hamil­ton, make con­tact through the Face­book page Just Ripe — Hamil­ton.

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.

Photos / Sup­plied

Let­tuce and herbs grow­ing in plas­tic milk bot­tles.

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