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Waste Not, Want Not: Community Garden Swap Keeps Things Fresh and Tasty

A local heath foods store throws a garden swap every other weekend to help share the plentiful crops grown in our backyards.

"Waste not, want not" is an efficient mind set to have, especially when it comes to food. And luckily for Ramona, a local heath foods store is making waste a thing of the past.

Every other Saturday, holds a . The concept is simple: you take some of my food, I take some of yours.

The idea became a reality after store owner Robert Bradley was talking to customers one day who were frustrated at the thought of their garden zucchini going to waste.

"He thought how great it would be if people could come together to trade with each other and the idea to start the Garden Swap was born," said Robert's wife, Victoria Bradley in an email to Patch. "One person may have an abundance of fresh tomatoes and someone else may have too many eggs from their chickens. We give them an opportunity to get together to share with each other."

So now, every other weekend, residents who have excess fruit or veggies from their home gardens can come to Ramona Family Naturals and barter with their neighbors. Beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the days of the swap, various items, including homemade products, are displayed on tables for curious swappers to check out.

"At 9 a.m., swapping begins," Bradley said. "The only rules are that whatever you bring must be homegrown or homemade and no money exchanges hands."

The Garden Swap is in its third year and anyone with excess food or homemade goods is invited to participate. Bradley said some people swap garden items, like tomatoes and herbs, and others bring their cookies, jams, handmade soaps, hand-sewn dolls and even fresh cheese.

"Whatever you love to make or grow is welcome," she said.

The fun community event also features a cooking demonstration for the swappers. Bradley said the last event's demo was on blueberry pancakes to celebrate National Blueberry Month. This weekend's demo is perfect for those with a sweet tooth: date shakes.

Swappers can also win $10 store credit in a simple ticket drawing. Each swapper gets a ticket and at the end of the swap, one is drawn and a winner is named.

Bradley said that the Garden Swap is a learning experience for all participants, as conversation about each types of food or items is encouraged. She also said that those looking to waste less or have garden-fresh food are the perfect candidates for the swap.

"For those who wish they had a garden, they can make something to swap for some home-grown produce," Bradley said. "It’s like having a garden without the hassle."

Most importantly, Bradley said, the event is about people, relationships and strengthening our community.

"People have met and become friends at the Garden Swap," she said. "These are difficult times and we feel like people really need each other."

The Garden Swap takes place in the parking lot next to Ramona Family Naturals every other Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during the warmer months. Got enough basil to last you the whole year? Come swap it for some soap this Saturday and share your abundance with your neighbor!

Melissa Phy August 10, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Just a friendly reminder...tomorrow is Aug. 11! Thanks, Robert!
Robert Bradley August 10, 2012 at 07:02 PM
The next Garden Swap is tomorrow August 11th, set up at 8:30 swapping starts at 9am! Thanks!

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