Growing food to save money seemed like a smart idea until I discovered that planting a lemon tree and getting it to bear fruit are two different things. It’s been three years since Dad put in a Eureka for me and so far there have been no lemons, only gall wasps; I can’t count the number of times I’ve driven past someone else’s tree and had lemon envy.
The rhubarb is doing well though, alongside the thyme that thrives on my neglect. But there are only so many rhubarb crumbles one can make. What to do with the glut?
Some folks preserve their harvest. They freeze it, pickle it, turn it into jam or chutney. The last time I tried my hand at preserving though, I ended up with rubbery marmalade. 😦
There is an easier way to make use of the glut: veggie swapping. Veggie swaps are like clothes swaps but tastier. Participants meet once a month to exchange fruit and vegetables. No money changes hands except for maybe a gold coin donation on entry.
After reading about the Whitehorse Urban Harvest–where you can ‘save anywhere within $30 to $80 a month on fruit and vegetable shopping’ (swap organiser Melissa Carstens via Whitehorse Leader)–I thought I’d give it a try one Saturday. My thyme, mint, rhubarb, and 4L of worm wee got exchanged for rosemary, coriander, pepino, Asian gourd seeds, tomato seedlings, lettuce, and LEMONS.
I also met a lady who breeds feather-footed chickens and got to pet one of her hens.
There’s a veggie swap happening somewhere most weekends. While there’s no definitive online database, sites like localharvest.org.au will list more-established swaps. Don’t worry if you don’t have much produce to barter with since most swaps also accept seeds, seedlings, worm wee, compost, recipes, preserves, baked goods, pots, jars, eggs, gardening tools, and other items. Swapping can take as long or short as you like, but I recommend sticking around for a chat and some free gardening advice.