By Michelle Croker, Yackandandah Sustainability
Established with assistance from the Indigo Shire Community Strengthening Project in 2012, the Yack Food Swap is coordinated by local community members and has become a monthly event on the local calendar.
On the third Saturday of each month tables are set up outside YCEN (Community Education Centre) and at 9.30am the produce starts rolling in and the swap finishes around 11:00am. A wide range of produce is swapped each month, ranging from; leafy greens, garlic, onions, peppers, zucchini, olives, beans, seasonal fruits, preserves, seeds and seedlings, egg cartons and glass jars. On some occasions the swap includes more unusual items like chickens, ducklings and alpaca wool. The list keeps growing as community members come up with their own creative ideas for tradeable items.
As well as swapping produce, the meet is a fantastic opportunity to learn about growing vegetables and fruit, share gardening tips or just have a cup of tea with new and old friends. We always bring out a stack of chairs and put the kettle on for those with time to stay and have a chat.
The food swap is coordinated by a small group of volunteers who organise a roster of helpers. We ask for swap participants to make a small donation to help keep the swap going, which has enabled us to purchase items like the marquee, tables and a banner. This also allows people to share in the produce even if they have no produce of their own to swap. Each season we also combine the monthly food swap with a community meal at the Yackandandah Primary School, where we bring food to bake in the wood-fired oven.
We can already see the benefits of our produce swap for the local community; as well as building and strengthening relationships across the community, it helps to ensure local food security and reminds us to garden with a wider focus than just our own backyard.
More recently Yackandandah (in partnership with YCEN) has received a grant from Sustainable Gardening Australia to build our own community garden. A vacant site next to the Yackandandah swimming pool has been selected and the proposed plan can be viewed at YCEN. It is yet another exciting initiative that will help to strengthen Yackandandah’s capacity to ensure food security into the future.
Check out Ecoportal (www.eco.redsally.com) to view future dates for the Yack Food Swap.