August 4, 2009

Produce Swap

As my longtime readers know, I love to swap. I've shared the thrills of the clothes swap, and waxed rhapsodic about the joys of swapping homes on vacation.

Now I've found out about this produce swap in my neighborhood, and I just had to share the news with you.

It's called Hillside Produce Cooperative, and it's the brainchild of Hynden Walch who lives in the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park. Once a month, members descend on her home with their bounty and leave with a bag of produce. It's a monthly swap of fruits and vegetables - fresh delicious food, and it's free!

So if your lemon tree bears too much fruit to eat, or you're overrun with tomatoes or zucchini, you can give your zucchini and take whatever is in season and on offer that month.

If you don't have any produce to bring, you can donate your time. The idea has proven so popular that new chapters are in the works for other Los Angeles neighborhoods. And for everyone else, it's easy to start a coop in your own neighborhood. Hynden is eager to share what she's learned from her experience. Visit Hillside Produce Cooperative and send her an email. Wouldn't it be great if people started sharing their fruit and vegetables all across the country?

Kudos for Hynden for noticing a need and filling it. We've all seen trees dropping more fruit than one family can possibly eat, and other folks who can't afford to buy fresh produce. People sharing food, you can't get more basic than that. When times get rough, people stick together. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, people who lived in rural areas fared better than those in the cities, largely because they always had food to eat.

I can't tell you how much I love the concept: tasty homegrown produce, less waste, sharing, community, feeding the hungry, eating healthy. All good.

Hynden has inspired me to start an ongoing series about inspiring people who are making a difference in their own neighborhood. I hope she'll agree to be my first installment.

Have you ever heard of a produce swap? Do you trade fruit and vegetables with friends, family, and neighbors? What do you think of this idea? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section.

5 comments:

Tanya said...

I think this is such a wonderful idea! I am going to see if there is anything like that where I live.

Alea said...

I've done this my entire life (well when I was a kid my mom made me run down to the neighbors to do the swap). It is nice to see an old-fashioned country practice make it into the city.

I swap my stawberries, apples, pears, lettuces, and tomatoes for peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots and eggs.

I also swap plants, seeds, and bulbs with my friends. My stawberries have sent out a lot of runners. I will let them become established and then trade the plants for raspberry shoots in the spring.

Jill said...

Wow - it is true what they say about great minds... ahem... I was just going to blog about this tomorrow - now I can just send folks over to you as you have beautifully explained how this works!! Thanks, Angela! Oh... I have a surprise for you - stop by sometime after tonight!

Frugalchick said...

What a neat idea!

Angela said...

Tanya- Yes, and if it doesn't already exist, go to Hynden's website to find out how to set one up yourself. She insists it is really easy.

Alea- How great! You grow so many tasty things. We planted fruit trees in the backyard of the first house my parents bought when we were young, and I've never had such delicious apricots and plums as we had. There is nothing like it. I wish you were my neighbor!

Jill- Thanks again for showcasing me and your kind words. I always love going to your blog and have so many of your recipes on my to-do list.

Frugalchick- Thanks for coming by and commenting! Isn't it funny how some of these great ideas are so simple? But they ARE great ideas. I think it just goes to show how humans are so adaptable (which can be a great quality) that they get used to things that aren't actually good - like waste and overspending and replacing everything immediately. And buying horrible tasting, but beautiful looking, produce at the supermarket.