Bring your excess, take what you need.
That is the simple concept of the Ballarat Produce Swap.
A group of people sat chatting around the produce table when we arrived at the Ballarat Community Garden on Saturday morning. The kettle is on and they’re enjoying home baked biscuits.
On the table sits rhubarb, herbs, lemons, seedlings and cabbage.
Ballarat Produce Swap organiser Althea Oliver said the meet up was not just about sharing produce, but more importantly creating community.
“People bring things that are excess to their needs, whether it be produce or plants they have grown, or seeds they have collected, jams and preserves or home baked goods, for other people that might want them.
“But people also swap gardening information, cooking information and personal experiences.”
It’s the continuity of community and knowledge that to me is the most important part of it.Althea Oliver, Ballarat Produce Swap
The Ballarat Produce Swap is run by the BREAZE Local Food Group and hosted at the Ballarat Community Garden. The garden is fenced making it a safe place for children.
“The kids come along and play and get involved,” Ms Oliver said.
“One lady who has been coming here for years brought her two young granddaughters. They had collected the seeds from a butternut pumpkin she had grown.
“It’s the continuity of community and knowledge that to me is the most important part of it.
“For us, we bring whatever is in abundance in the garden. We both love growing things. This helps us be able to enjoy doing the growing while knowing the food will not go to waste.”
All produce left over after the swap is taken to the Food is Free Laneway.
Ballarat Community Garden member Patrick Cook joined the conversation around the produce table.
He has been a member at the garden since it first began more than 14 years ago.
Mr Cook had never grown his own vegetables before, but has now learnt how to grow, what to grow and when to grow through conversations with other gardeners.
“You can’t beat the taste of home grown strawberries and tomatoes,” he said.
Fair Food Week runs from October 6 to 14 celebrating community initiatives to ensure everyone can access their ‘fair share’ of fresh food.
The Ballarat Produce Swap runs from 9.30am to 11.30am on the first Saturday of the month.
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