Swap Shuffle Share Five Years On
Our last Swap Shuffle Share was on a wet and rainy day in July. We had just returned home from holidays and hadn’t put any time into promoting the Swap. I hadn’t sent out a newsletter, got enthusiastic on social media and hadn’t got into one of those bubbly moods, chatting to everyone I saw and reminding them that there was a swap coming up.
To be honest when we woke up on Saturday morning and watched the rain come in we wondered if we just did nothing, maybe if no one would turn up.
Why would you get out of bed, harvest fruit and veggies , get in your car and drive to a cold old barn in the middle of winter?
What happened next of course was that (we did get up) the cars started driving in, the baskets filled up the swap table, cakes, scones, chocolates and fruit piled up on the morning tea table and the place filled up with the sound of music, children and swappers.
It’s not as if we live in an area with nothing to do, Margaret River must have one of the greatest number of activities to do anywhere in the state with every weekend being filled with some sort of festival, activity, opening etc and this weekend was no exception. So why come to a Swap?
As I had recently been invited by UWA to give a talk about the Swap for the Social Impact Festival I took the opportunity to ask individuals if they would like to jot down a few words on what the Swap meant for them. I put out some pens and paper and hoped that a few people might take the time. At the end of the morning I had a pile of papers to read through and without exception every one of them mentioned the importance of community.
What I got from reading was a warm, heartfelt love of being a part of something real.
“Where a day of shopping takes on meaning for the soul”
“I feel like whatever happens in life I’m part of a community and it will be OK”
and that “it feels like what community used to mean”
So yes the plants and seeds and produce were important but the juicy stuff that people were after was the feeling of community.
On that wet and rainy day not only did we have locals come out with their produce but we also had two seperate groups of people driving 3 hours from their homes in rural WA to find out what we do and how they can create the same in their communities.
So, back to basics…
Starting local, why does local food mean so much to me?
a few reasons;
- It keeps us connected to the land
- In reduces the ridiculous amount of fossil fuels being spent sending food around the globe
- It creates meaningful work
- It builds community resilience
- It encourages relationships between growers and consumers
- It reduces waste and spoilage
- It builds community economics
- It grows the knowledge base of the community
So as a firm believer in the power of local food and as a food grower, a small group of us got together to exchange seeds and produce. This was around 5 years ago, 60 Swaps later and the Swap continues to grow.
A few things about our Swap;
- It happens on the 3rd Saturday of every month between 10am and midday at the Fair Harvest barn
- Everyone is welcome even if they come empty handed
- If you’re one of those people that hates coming empty handed bring along something for the morning tea table
- stick to seeds, plants and produce (we have a clothes swap once a year for international women’s day)
- there is no “direct” swapping it is simply put your goodies on the table and fill up your basket
- gold coin donation appreciated
What else happens at the Swap?
- Knowledge and information is exchanged about growing food in our local area
- New plant varieties are being trialled
- Knowledge and information about storing and saving seeds and produce is being exchanged
- The uses of plants, their preparation, cooking and recipes are being exchanged
- Families meet and explore the gardens, visit the animals and meet like minded people
- Newcomers to the area are welcomed and encouraged to start growing
- Old timers are valued for their years of experience
- Traditional methods of growing, storing and prepping are being revived
- People get creative with making food for the swap if they haven’t grown something e.g. Kombucha, muesli, bread.
Then there’s the other Groups, Events and Discussions that gain momentum through having an active group such as:
- Transition Towns (quite often a Swap will be a Transition Town Initiative)
- Food Buying co-op’s for those things we can’t grow
- Open Edible Gardens”
- Plastic Free July
- and of course more Swaps
Last and by no means least is the notion of giving, for me to be able to give is one of the greatest things, it gives us purpose and quite often is source of happiness in itself.
I have always believed that there are far more generous people in our community than their are greedy ones. If there are those who turn up empty handed and go away with full baskets then enjoy the giving and remember that you are quite likely inspiring them to be the giver next time .
If you are a part of our Margaret River Swap it’s time to celebrate! August 19th 2017 Swap Shuffle Share will be a party!
If you want to get a Swap happening in your area here is more info
or come to UWA Social Impact Festival next Wednesday and hear more about the Future of Food
Other Swaps happening in W.A.
( I am building up more information on each of these)
- Mt Barker
- Hills Harvest Share
please let me know if you would like me to add your group to the list