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Veggie Bartering or Bust

Feb 8, 2024

You know you’re connected with your land when you can eat what you’ve grown from it. Even better, you know you’re connected to your community when you can trade cucumbers for tomatoes, or eggplants for eggs, or garlic for you-name-it-our-neighbours-in-the-Hawkesbury-grow-it!

This past spring, I finally built some raised garden beds for a veggie garden I had coveted for years and years. It was a contentious project in our house, especially since the area I chose was earmarked for a swimming pool. Oops! But to truly hop onto the “regenerative farming bandwagon” I couldn’t not join this age-old trend.

The family weren’t too keen and were certain we would regret not putting the pool in. By late October my spring seedlings had taken off and we’ve been enjoying homegrown meals ever since. We’ve had a good run so far with lettuces, cabbage, spinach, zucchini, onions, capsicums, eggplants, beetroot, and leeks. And yes, on those super-hot days the idea of a pool has been very enticing, but truly, the joy this garden has brought to our kitchen has been contagious. I love it.

Everyone knows you grow way too much food for your own household to eat, no matter how hard you plan, pickle, bottle, can or freeze your way around it. So, instead of having “cabbage surprise” every other night or endless zucchini bakes, slices and stir fries, I have been delighted to tap into a little treasure in our hood called Hawkesbury Veggie Barter.

With over 2,000 members, I guess it’s not so little. Founded around 2015 by Kirsty Bertè, the group’s aim has always been to “grow a community of self-sufficient, sustainable [and] nourished households.”

Using Facebook, they have made it easy to connect with and arrange a veggie swap with other locals who are growing food. So if I’ve grown too many zucchini or too much silverbeet, I can put up a post in search of other homegrown goods like tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic…even eggs. I absolutely love it. I love meeting like-minded gardeners, I love the recipe inspo people share, but most of all I love eating freshly grown local produce. What a thrill.

In a time where we are more connected online, but seriously detached from our community and the land we live on, I think veggie bartering is a real golden goose.

So going back to the word I mentioned before – “regenerative”. I haven’t gotten sick of this word yet, even though it has been thrown around a bit in the past few years. Some might even say it’s a trigger word considering the very mention of it has been known to make people’s eyes roll, or worse. It has the potential to divide certain farming communities, but the word still resonates with me because at its core “to regenerate” means to heal or make something better. And when it comes to farming, growing food or even connecting our community, I couldn’t think of a better principle to strive for.

Being a part of a veggie bartering group has definitely made my experience growing food a lot better. If you’ve felt daunted by the prospect of growing a little veggie patch, or if you’re on the other side of the spectrum and don’t know what to do with all those damn tomatoes, then let this be a nudge to connect with your neighbours. It truly takes the edge off trying to solve everything on your own, it’s super fulfilling and, yes of course, yummy!

All the best,

C W McGregor

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