By Sue Slater, Projects Manager, Birallee Park Neighbourhood House Inc
Had a bumper crop? Don’t know what to do with your excess? Maybe the solution for you is Food Swap. The idea of a food swap or exchange is not new. Our ancestors bartered with produce, between families, between villagers and between villages. As towns grew and food production became centralised many of us lost contact with the soil, with food and with each other. Fortunately, that situation is now changing! Many in our community are now eagerly growing their own and sharing nature’s bounty, increasing our socialisation with family and friends.
The recent expansion of programs on offer at the Birallee Park Neighbourhood House in West Wodonga, has meant that several community garden beds have been constructed, and the wider Wodonga community has been encouraged to become more involved in growing food. Participants develop basic life skills, a sense of well being and build strong social relationships with others who work the gardens and cook in our kitchen. Birallee’s programs use food to help bring our culturally diverse community together.
Our message is strong – anyone can grow food cheaply and easily, using recycled materials to house the plants and soil enriched with compost made of kitchen scraps and garden trimmings. Volunteers from all walks of life then go on to use and share this wonderful bounty of locally grown food when it is at its freshest and tastiest, making up meals to share in menus designed to use what is to hand.
At Birallee there is a great sharing of resources, ideas and knowledge which does not stop at our garden gate! We now hold a regular weekly Food Swap at the Neighbourhood House, seeking to encourage all backyard gardeners to swap or exchange food and plants with others in the community. By sharing food and information in this way, we seek to increase the social and physical involvement of those who may be isolated, and as we reduce wastage of oversupply or excess backyard produce, we can give a helping hand to those of us in the community who may not yet have the skills or means to grow food for themselves.
Food Swap every Thursday 11.00am – 2.00pm at the Birallee Park Neighbourhood House, 39 Emerald Avenue, Wodonga. 3690. Tel. (02)60 59 2590.