Aotearoa / New Zealand
What we do
Mother Nature is abundant and when we share her gifts we all thrive. Crop Swap Aotearoa brings together backyard gardeners, home bakers and food foragers for swapping and sharing high quality local food on a regular basis.
Crop Swap Aotearoa was once a tiny seed that fell into fertile New Zealand soil. In September 2014 a bunch of backyard gardeners met in a private house in Merrilands, New Plymouth, Taranaki, and experienced the joy of sharing their garden produce first hand. Crop Swap Merrilands was born, grew bigger, moved into a public hall and inspired people in other suburbs and villages to start their own Crop Swap hubs. We currently have six different venues in Taranaki and one in Thames, Coromandel, where backyard gardeners meet on a regular basis to share their garden's and kitchen's abundance with others. Crop Swap Aotearoa is now a sturdy and healthy plant that is sending it's seeds into the world.
We come together with a mindset of abundance, give with generosity and take mindfully. We understand that we as individuals are only then truly well when everyone's needs are met. We are open and inclusive and support people in finding their gifts. We are building a multigenerational network of gardeners to support local food production, preserving gardening knowledge and enjoy each other's company.
The Crop Swap idea is so simple that it can be adapted to every place in the world. Imagine a planet where every city, town, suburb, village and neighbourhood has a place where people get together to share locally grown and homemade food, exchange gardening knowledge and build relationships. The benefits and possibilities of this are endless. Crop Swaps are beneficial for the natural environment, enhance the quality of life for the individual and help building well connected communities that are based on generosity and fairness. Imagine a planet where kindness prevails.
Let me take you to a Crop Swap gathering. People carry full boxes and baskets into the community hall, sign in, find a free table and proudly display their goods. Neighbours and friends greet each other, walk around, admire produce, exchange gardening tips and welcome newcomers. Children run around, eye cupcakes and pet the ducklings. The whole room is buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The variety on offer is huge: vegetables, fruits, plants, flowers, seedlings, herbs, eggs, preserves, jams, baking, liquid manure, gardening books, magazines, planting containers, sometimes even chooks who need a new home. After half an hour of admiration and connection time, the swap is opened with a brief introduction and everyone is welcome to take a fair share of what they are interested in. Everything is free. Baskets fill, tables clear and after a quick clean-up everyone leaves with fresh local produce and a big smile.
"We love Crop Swap because.....(click on photo to find out)
Find a crop swap
Have a look on the map.........
You can find the nearest Crop Swap hub on this map.
If you start a new Crop Swap in your area, please contact us with venue and time so people can easily find you as well.
Come to a crop Swap
Pick a bunch of parsley.........
Crop Swap gatherings are for everyone who is happy to share. Just bring your garden's and kitchen's surplus, turn up in time (or even a little earlier to help with the set up), display your treasures nicely, walk around and admire your fellow crop swappers goodies, mix and mingle, share your best jam recipe and enjoy the presence of people who find joy in the moneyless exchange of mother nature's abundance. Once everyone is officially welcomed and the sharing is opened you are invited to mindfully take what you are interested in. Everything is there to go to a new home. Take your time and keep other's in mind, the slow ones, the children, the elders, so that everyone has the chance to fill their baskets with beautiful food. After this please help with the clean up, get home safely and tell everyone, how awesome it was. Next time, bring a friend!
Start a Crop Swap
Find a venue........
Starting a Crop Swap hub in your area is super easy. All you need is a venue and the people. Depending on your climate, the season and the people you want to share with a Crop Swap gathering can be anywhere, in a hall, a sports club, a school, a cafe, a garage, in a park, under a pavilion or even in your living room. To make it accessible for everyone it is good to have parking close by. To make it attractive for families consider a space where children can run around safely. Having tables and a few chairs available is helpful to accommodate the needs of people with different abilities. Once you found a venue (and don't get caught up in that too much as you can always change it) invite your future fellow crop swappers. Again, possibilities are endless. There are community newspapers, school newsletters, letter box leaflets, information boards in garden centres, shops, libraries and environment centres, emails, Facebook and, of course, good old word of mouth invitations. Set a date and time for your first gathering and enjoy the flow.
Be a Crop Swap Guardian
Holding the space...
Being a Crop Swap guardian is a beautiful and rewarding opportunity for building connections in your community and setting the tone for your individual Crop Swap hub. Yes, you are the organiser, and yes, you can extend your understanding of a guardian as far as you like. Moneyless exchange of goods is as old as human kind, some of us however relearn the art of generous giving and mindful receiving after decades of capitalism, consumerism and a mentality of scarcity. The guardian speaks and acts out of a mindset of abundance and a deep trust in the inner beauty of human beings and aims to bring out the best in everyone. Sharing this role within a small team works very well and keeps everyone flexible.
Crop swap run down
A few days before the gathering I set up a facebook event and send out an email with an invitation (works as a reminder too). I usually take the time to write up a short text referring to the season or special crops or whatever comes to my mind to help people getting into the right Crop Swap mood
On the day itself I go to the venue a bit earlier with my Crop Swap box (see next point), unlock the door and start setting up the welcome table and the produce table.
In my box I have my fabric Crop Swap banner that I hang up between two trees, pens and a Crop Swap sign in sheet where people can put their name and email down so I can add them to my Crop Swap email list. I also bring an old school bell. Reusable name tags are great too so people can easily get to know each other. A small bucket and a cloth is handy for wiping the tables at the end.
I then greet arriving people, admire the things that they are bringing, look out for people who come for the first time and make them feel welcome and comfortable by explaining them how it all works.
In the meantime the room is filling up and I talk to everyone who wants to talk to me.
After half an hour of chatting I take my school bell and ring it to get attention. I then welcome everyone officially, acknowledge Mother Earth and Father Sky, explain once more how the swap is working (by putting a big emphasis on our values mindset of abundance, generous giving and mindful taking), give room for community notices and mention the date and time of our next meeting. When the group is not to big it is really lovely when everybody can have a turn with introducing their produce like we did at the last gathering in Raglan. For big meetings I skip that part as it might take too long. Then I invite everyone to take what they fancy, in big gatherings reminding everyone to take their time and so that elders, children and slower people are safe and included too. Happy Sharing!!!
I then usually stand back a little and observe the sharing but then join in as well. If I notice something that doesn't feel quite right to me as it isn't aligned with our values I observe a little more and think about ways that can help us all to learn from it. Sometimes it just needs a different set up. Sometimes I will mention something in the next welcome, in rare occasions I speak to people privately.
We then clean up together, I pack my box, lock the door and add new addresses to my email list. Done!