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Cromwell Crop Swap
Connect Cromwell

Toha Atu, Toha Mai - I share with you, you share with me

Food connects people, both locally and globally, in a unique way. Everybody has to eat, and more recently, during COVID-19 Alert Level 4, many Kiwis hunkered down to stay home and save lives; with time on their hands, seed and seedling sales across the country sky rocketed, as people took the opportunity to build gardens and grow their own food. As Alert Level 4 took place at the end of the 2020 autumn harvest, members of the Cromwell community began leaving excess fruit outside their gates for people to collect on their walks, as a way to share the abundance of their gardens while adhering to social distancing measures. Local businesses also organised boxes of free produce such as pears for the community to take home, and others gifted fresh produce to local foodbanks. Buying preserving jars and lids became almost impossible.

Central Otago is a land of plenty, and while the winter presents a particular set of challenges, this abundance of food is not limited to one season. In November 2019, community-led development group Connect Cromwell, saw an opportunity to bring people together through food, and started running a crop swap on a fortnightly basis. Crop Swap Aotearoa was started up in Taranaki in 2014 to bring people together to share excess garden produce from their home gardens. It’s a simple concept that has taken off across the country. People bring along something food related to swap for something else. It can be anything that you’ve grown yourself, or made from scratch, or anything related to gardening. Therefore, even if you aren’t a gardener, you can bake something such as muffins, to trade for fresh produce or something else such as seeds to help you start a garden. The main premise is that everything is food related, and no money exchanges hands. This is just as much about food as it is about human connection, and crop swaps often have the same people returning week after week, connecting together over food.

The Cromwell Crop Swap has been supported by a local business, with swaps being run at Forage Café in Cromwell. Left over produce is often given to the café kitchen at the end of the swapping. When Crop Swaps resume again post COVID-19, it is possible that there will be many new gardeners out there with produce to share, and Crop Swap is a great way to trade in your excess for something else, without spending money. Crop Swaps support building self-sufficient and resilient communities.

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