Our Monthly Swap Shuffle Share is my sort of Permaculture in action. If we really look at the ethics of Permaculture “Care for the Earth’, “Care for the People” and “Fair Share” then there is nothing that does it better than getting together with local growers and community members to share excess produce.
In July 2012 we were working on getting our new Permaculture Venue finished and were chafing at the bit to get things started when we came across the idea of Swap Shuffle Share, in My Home Harvest a simple idea of inviting gardeners to get together and swap excess seeds, plants and produce and we knew we’d found a place to start. Our Old Barn provided the perfect place to meet and we put the word out to our food growing community to bring out their goods. We set up a morning tea table, a donation pot and a place for produce and the growers did the rest. That was going on 2 years ago now and the Margaret River Swap Shuffle Share is a well established community event. There were a few swaps when there was only a handful of growers and we wondered if we were wasting our time (and our precious saturday mornings) but there are a few key things that I think have kept this swap alive and healthy
Our swaps are super casual, we simply place our produce on the table, make a cup of tea, talk with other growers, exchange ideas and information, collect a few goodies and go. There is no direct swapping or trying to place value on goods. I believe their are more generous people in our growers community than there are greedy ones and I’ve never yet heard a complaint about fairness.
We encourage people to come who have nothing to swap, everyone has to start their food growing journey somewhere and what a better place to come and meet supportive gardeners. If you don’t have anything to swap there’s always the option of baking something for morning tea …….we’ve also had great creative produce that doesn’t involve being a gardener such as sprouts, kombucha, muesli, sourdough
We have kept to the same time and place regardless of weather, conflicting events, public holidays etc (there was one exceptions in 2 years and the group got together to make sure the swap went ahead in a local park)
One of the great boosts that happened to our swap was the creation of a local gardeners Facebook page called “Eat Your Greens” this page was set up in April
2013 by one of our regular swappers Wendy Line and now has 470 members all talking about their experience in the garden. After meeting on line and talking about growing food, pest problems, great new veggie varieties, heirloom seeds etc members have a place to meet and share their produce once a month.
Another bonus has been the idea of a growers shared meal, during the winter months of 2013 Heather Sharpe invited growers to drop off their produce at Fair Harvest on select saturday mornings and she (and her team) would spend the weekend putting together a 3 course meal using only that produce. We would all then come together on Sunday evening for a shared meal…………..looking forward for the 2014 winter for some more!
The Swappers also came out in force at the local Agricultural show setting up a swap table and talking to locals about how it all works.
Swapping home grown fruit, veggies, seeds and plants would have to be one of the most simple and obvious forums to encourage the growth of local food growing , but it is far more than that, it is building strength in our local community. I love seeing our older community members being appreciated for their wealth of knowledge and children tasting fruits they would never have tried. I love that regardless of the season and no matter how many times we think “surely nobody would want zucchinis “, there is very seldom any thing left on the table at the end of the day. I love seeing visitors wander in off the street with no idea what we are doing and leave feeling welcomed. I love seeing people walking in the gardens, getting ideas, coming back with friends. I love seeing posts on Eat Your Greens talking about who’s bringing what to the next swap, and I love those little unexpected treats that I come home with at the end of the day.
Here is a story about our swap aired on ABC Rural by Bridget Fitzgerald
Thanks to everyone that has been a part of Swap Shuffle Share………see you next month in the old barn!
oh and to finish off here’s a few quotes from regular swappers!
“Tobie ( 14 year old ) says every time, ” mum don’t worry about the plants and seeds and stuff, just grab some of that homemade jam , its so good !! ” ” Belinda
“omg – where to begin – so nourishing, for the body mind and the spirit . i have random things growing in my garden that i never would have planted if not for sss – i don’t even know what some of them are called but i feel so grateful for them and to be a part of this ever growing group. thanks Jodie to you and Do for hosting this marvellous monthly event – definitely stress relief at it’s finest. xxx” Beth
“Don’t forget Beth’s choccy cake its supreme….” Joy (and I totally agree!)
“I live in Dunsborough and completed my Permaculture Design Course at Fair Harvest last year. Since then I have found that sharing at the monthly SSS is all about permaculture it’s not just gardening but being part of a community of like minded people who share the joy in sharing knowledge, seeds, cooking all sorts of exotic plants and a support network of fantastic friends” Sandy