Henley Fruit & Veg Swap
About this project
- Date started:
- October 2009
- Number of people involved:
- Number of people benefitting:
- Goals or benefits:
- Related Transition stage:
Fruit & Veg Swaps increase food security for the community, building community networks and friendships, promoting healthy eating, and cutting down on food miles. We also hope to help preserve open-pollinated seed varieties adapted to local conditions, and encourage the growing of heritage food plant varieties.
The Henley Fruit & Veg Swap was inspired by the “Urban Orchard”, a project initiated by the Friends of the Earth at the Clarence Park Community Centre in 2007. In 2008, Julietta Cerin started the West Croyden Vege Swap at a local park so that she could share the abundant produce from her backyard fig tree rather than let it go to waste. Inspired by these Swaps, the Henley Fruit and Veg Swap began in October 2009 at the Henley Community Garden, West Adelaide. I was personally inspired to coordinate this project after a Permaculture Design Course at The Food Forest, Gawler. During the course I learned about Peak Oil and wondered how some of the more vulnerable people in our society would cope, and how they would eat. After the course I began sharing home-grown produce with neighbours and realised how fulfilling it can be to forge neighbourhood links and share locally-grown food. I also realised how isolated I had been living in the suburbs, not knowing any of the people I lived close to. I thought a Fruit and Veg Swap could address many of these issues in a friendly, non-threatening way, and might attract a varied cross-section of the community.
Outcomes so far:
Main outcomes include: - encouraging people to grow more food at home, and sow more seeds to share - increased variety of home-grown produce - both formal (i.e. workshops) and informal (i.e. conversations) skill sharing in growing, harvesting, preparing and preserving food - forging links and friendships in the community
Some unexpected outcomes include: - accessing an informal communal pool of resources, tools and books as well as actual food - uncovering a broad range and depth of skills in the community and providing a platform for them to be shared - a steady, increasing willingness by regular members to take part in organising and hosting swaps - providing much-needed social contact and friendships opportunities for some members
Obstacles, and how we overcame them:
I have sometimes encountered a lack of understanding about what is sustainable produce. For example, sometimes a well-meaning person, new to tthe Swap, will try to share some excess super-market bought produce, or produce with high food miles. It takes a careful blend of tact and firmness to turn these products away from the Swap table. To help with this I now have a permanent "How Does the Swap Work" info sheet I can give new people to read, and that any Swap host can use.
At first the Swap was a monthly event, and then people started asking if it could be weekly. Because there was a demand, I felt keen to make the Swap more regular. This was very demanding personally for a while, until some of the Swappers gained confidence to be more invloved. It may have been better to make this a more gradual process; get volunteers first, then make the Swaps more regular!
Links and partnerships:
Transition Adelaide West, who have helped with promotion and providing resources for skill-sharing workshops.
Sources of materials:
All materials for the Swaps have been sourced from members, eg card tables, tools, bulk purchases of compost, etc I personally invested in flyers and info sheets to get the project ff the ground. Other members now frequently offer to share costs if they occur.
We get together to share organically grown, home-produced fruit, vegetables, seeds, seedlings, eggs, preserves, honey and more. We also share skills, knowledge and resources. It's good fun and anyone is welcome, whether they have any produce to share or not.