On the weekend Transition Town Guildford launched their first Garden & Produce Share at the Stirling Square Markets in Guildford.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Garden & Produce share, here’s how it works:
People bring their excess garden produce to share. This could be seeds, seedlings, veggies, cuttings and/or fruit. People take what they need. No money is exchanged.
That’s right, you read that correctly: no money is exchanged. Not a single cent.
This baffled quite a few people who came along to our stall. “Can I give a donation for the persimmons?” and “Are you sure I can just take this apple?!”.
No. We don’t want your money. And please, take the apple. We want you to have the apple!
I can understand that it may seem a little strange to go to a market stall and be told “You can talk anything you want. All of this stuff is free”. This isn’t exactly the norm in Western consumer culture! But judging from the delighted looks on people’s faces as they munched on the crisp homegrown apples and other fresh produce, I could tell it was a welcome change.
So you may be wondering, “What sort of produce did people share?”
Being the daughter of stone fruit orchardists, I shared some second-grade fruit from my parents’ orchard in the Perth hills. I brought some macadamia nuts along too which a little local boy had fun cracking and eating. My husband picked some green capsicums and garlic from last year to share with others too.
Being our first produce share, I have to admit my expectations were fairly low. I thought maybe some people would bring a few herbs to share. Perhaps some seedlings too.
I couldn’t have imagined the variety of fruits and vegetables people would bring along: Jerusalem artichokes, tromboncinis, Indian guavas, persimmons, garlic, bay leaves, galaxy apples, limes, lemons… we had a better selection of organic produce than Coles and Woolworths put together!
One generous lady even donated a pineapple. It had taken her 2.5 years to grow this beast! And boy, did it smell delicious.
I also noticed that the produce was super fresh (most of it was picked on the day!). I could clearly see the difference between the homegrown produce and the sad looking wilted stuff sold at the local shop.
Everyone who came along left with a bag or basket full of different coloured goodies and a big smile on their face to boot.
It was really nice to see local residents come across our stall, take a few items and then say “I’ll just pop home to get some cuttings and lemons to contribute!” I think it must be in our nature to be generous and share.
What struck me about the whole event is how a garden and produce share can be a powerful way to connect with others and share local gardening knowledge.
Here’s an example of conversation I had:
Guildford resident: “What is this? Is it ginger?”
Me: “No, apparently that’s a Jerusalem artichoke”
Guildford resident: “Oh! What’s it taste like?”
Me: “They say a bit like a potato. You’ll have to try it and see!”
What the Garden and Produce share showed me is how good it feels when you remove money from the equation.
The event has re-inspired my love of food and community. It is deeply satisfying to give away your produce to others who understand the hard work involved in growing your own food. To connect with other fellow gardeners is food for my soul (like charlie carp and kelp is to my veggies!).
We’re going to trial the Garden and Produce Share for the next 3 months and see how it goes. The next one will be on the 15th of May from 10am – 11am. Put it in your diary. We look forward to seeing you there!