Fairfield Needs A New Trend: Garden Exchange

by Eileen Weber, guest writer and staff writer for CT GreenScene

There is a growing movement in gardening and Fairfield needs to be a part of it. A New York Times article dated June 10th listed web sites where gardeners can trade the excess fruits and vegetables they grow. Why let it go to waste if you can’t use it?

Sites like VeggieTrader.com [www.veggietrader.com] and NeighborhoodFruit.com [www.neighborhoodfruit.com] list the areas where food trading is available. Unfortunately, none of them are in Connecticut. Regional sites like Vermont Garden Exchange [www.vtgardenexchange.com], which entered the online market only a few months ago, are also trying to make their presence known.

“My wife has a friend who has already gotten 15 people interested in it,” said Brian Alcorn, Founder of Vermont Garden Exchange. Because they’re in the Northwestern section of Vermont near the Canadian border, their growing season won’t be as long as areas out West.

“We’ll probably be seasonal,” he said. “But we’ll keep the site up all year round.” Alcorn said he and his wife hoped that by trading food people could cut their food bill. “This is not meant to be a money-maker. It’s just a neat idea.”

For those in urban areas, there’s still a chance to exchange your goods. “We’re focused on the urban back yard,” said Kaytea Petro, Co-Founder of NeighborhoodFruit.com. But whether it’s at the heart of San Francisco like Petro’s company or the middle of nowhere, “Our purpose is to create a community,” she said.

For organizations like Santa Barabara Food Not Lawns, they also celebrate building relationships within communities around the food they share. “It’s about bringing together a community and reconnecting people,” said Lynn Seigel-Boettner, the company’s founder and organizer. “Anyone can join and everyone’s invited to come play. It’s like Kindergarten for adults.”

For Food Not Lawns, each group meets one weekend day for about two hours. “Citrus is huge out here,” said Seigel-Boettner. “But we also see plenty of artichokes, avocados, fresh eggs, baked goods, even coffee grounds and worms to use for compost.”

Consider a garden exchange just a fresh take on the farmer’s market. It smacks of an earlier time in this country when we bartered for things we needed with things we had. No need for a ‘coon skin hat and a map of the uncharted West. Just a bucket of fruit and a positive attitude will do quite nicely.

Editor’s Note: In the absence of a formal garden exchange, I recommend readers use the comments feature on this post to list goods available for trade by town, along with any  goods they’d like to receive in exchange. Exchanges can be made in public places like a local farmers’ market, park or beach.

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