Starting a Crop Swap
What is a Crop Swap and WHY?
Crop Swapping is very helpful to some gardeners. That is trading your surplus produce that you grow well and enjoy growing for someone else’s excess produce that they grow particularly well and enjoy specifically growing.
It allows people to specialize a little and take advantage of their particular location, resources, skill sets or even just preference. It frees gardeners from having to grow a variety of crops that their gardening set-up may not favor or that they simply do not enjoy growing It is also a way for home Gardeners to meet and network.
There is at least one app out there for that (Crop Swap) but last I looked there were only a few far flung tiny clusters throughout the country. Crop Swapping is of course just about got to be local to be practical.
How To Start A Crop Swap
So how would you put together a local, neighborhood, crop swap? Well you could register your gardens online and offer up crops you want to swap, exchange info online and then physically meet and swap. You could use Social Media platforms such as Facebook (especially with the new Messenger Chat Rooms capability) to create local crop swap groups or create a local Crop Swap group here on Homegardenbook.com.
Or you could just arrange a regular meeting place where you could display what you would be willing to swap and meet a whole group of crop swappers at one time instead of previewing the crops online.
Or you could do a hybrid of both. Advertise before the meet what you plan on bringing online and then show up with your produce.
I envision the latter. Find an online venue (could be Facebook, could be a dedicated website, could be a group in a community forum) and get folks talking online. Scope out a parking lot, under a tree, a park, any place before hand and set a date and time. Of course clear it with the property owners/caretakers etc before hand. Maybe use a restaurant parking on a late Saturday afternoon when business is sparse and promise the management that you will all have a bite together inside their establishment.
Set up your small tables and set out your produce. Everyone take a gander at what is there first, talk to your fellow gardeners, heck maybe bring a cheap calling card with contact info. Then when you have looked around start making offers.
How to Value Your Crops For Swapping.
Regarding valuations, forget them the first several times. Just swap. If a guy wants a big tomato and wants to trade you a single cucumber, give the guy the tomato and take the cucumber. Don’t be shy if you only have a single squash or even have nothing yet but want to scope out what people have for when your crop comes in.
Meet talk, swap, sample. Collect contact info in case you want to contact them between meets. Maybe later you will even want to plan future volume and selection of planting based upon the demand you discovered. Valuation, exchange rates can come later. Either they will work.out organically or you can all agree to just look up the market prices and swap according to those.
You would need to check sales tax laws concerning bartering. The government may want something even if you swap. I don’t know how that works everywhere but you could appoint a group tax , permit, expeditor and collector.
There are all kinds of great things a group of connected small gardeners could do. You could create a produce donation bin each meet or create a produce prize basket or have a recipe swap at the same time. You could do a garden visit for those wishing to show their gardens, buy some supplies cooperatively, have a picnic, create a seed starting demo.
Local gardeners sharing is likely to make them all better and more encouraged.
Facebook Is A Good Place To Start
I think Facebook is a fine place to start a very local Crop Swap page. If you want something with blogging, message boards, classified sections journaling, b and Crop Swapping the ability to create powerful groups with linksble pages then consider free Homegardenbook.com.
However I highly suggest that you do a Facebook group first, something like ‘Tupelo Mississippi Crop Swappers’ or even just a Tupelo Mississippi Gardener’s’ page.
PS but wait till the Coronavirus danger has waned.