It’s that time of year when – for many of us – scouring seed catalogs for potential garden additions stands in for actually getting our hands dirty. While you’ve got time (and not dirt) on your hands, you might want to consider organizing a method to share your eventual harvest right in your own community. Just imagine back fence trades – your abundance of zucchini in exchange for some of your neighbor’s prized turnips – a little bit larger in scale. Call it vegetable commerce if you will.
Sonia Martinez and Kim Hoffman, both part of the leadership team for Slow Food Hawaii, envisioned a way for backyard gardeners to barter their abundance with others in the area. Share the Harvest is the result.
Modeled after the successful Freecycle program, interested parties sign up to become a member of Share the Harvest and swap, trade, or barter anything that is food related. Fresh produce, baked products, preserves, dairy products, or even plants and seeds are fair game. Members who have an abundance send in an ‘offer’ listing what they have available and what they’d be interested in trading for. The message goes out to the list and anyone can respond to the offer. The individual parties determine what would be considered a fair trade.
For instance, I had way more egg cartons than my girls could fill, so I posted them on Share the Harvest. A woman responded that she’d love to have them, and offered me a dozen eggs, some sweet potatoes, and sweet potato slips in exchange. Deal!
The Share the Harvest program is based on the Big Island, but there’s no reason you couldn’t start a similar program that reaches out to your surrounding community. What a great way to diversify your pantry. Instead of figuring out what to do with 300 pounds of pears, you can preserve half that and trade the other half for something that you just don’t seem to be able to grow in your garden, saving you from long winter months filled with complaints of “pears again?” Win, win.