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Published August 28th 2017
Do you have excess from your garden to share?
Food swaps are a way that you can share your garden harvest with others, which also gives you the chance to get something different in return for what you've grown. I've been to a few food swaps, but this was the first time I've been to the Mooroolbark Food Swap. This swap is held at the Red Earth Community Centre, 125 Brice Ave, Mooroolbark, on the 2nd Saturday of the month from 10-11:30.
I arrived after it had started and there were 4 tables set out in the room, on them were veggies, herbs, leafy greens, nuts and so much more. I put my offering of some pumpkin, warrigal greens (which is a native spinach that grows as a ground cover, pictured above) and lemons down on a space on one of the tables. A few people said they didn't expect to see pumpkin at a swap because apparently it is hard to grow, and they told me of their failed attempts. So they were surprised when I told them this was the first time I've grown it. They cut some of it into smaller pieces, which made it go further, but it was taken very quickly, compared to everything else I'd brought.
From top left, clockwise: bouquet garni, rosemary with kale, bay leaf and rosemary, silverbeet, lavender rosemary and mint
Considering it was the middle of winter, there was still a good range of home grown things brought along. There were herbs and greens including rosemary, mint, lavender, bay leaf, silver beet and someone clever had even put together a traditional bouquet garni, tied nicely and ready for the soup pot.
Jerusalem artichokes, freshly harvested. Don't be fooled by their unscrubbed appearance, they're delicious
There were a couple of bags of Jerusalem artichokes, which if you're not familiar with them, might not look like much, but once scrubbed up and clean, they make a great soup. If you've never tried it, you'll just have to trust me on that. I also learnt they are very healthy for you, being full of antioxidants and was told that they are great sautéed along with other veggies too, so I'm going to have to try them cooked that way too.
Morning tea even sorted itself out because there was a plate of Weetbix chocolate slice, which was brought by someone who likes to come, but had nothing from the garden to bring this time. It was yum and went very quickly too.
Something else that I thought was a good idea, was that there was a great playground beside the hall. Admittedly it was the first thing I noticed as I arrived. The food swap coordinator told me that when she was searching for a venue, that a park or playground was something she wanted close by, which I think is a really good idea. There were a few kids at the swap and when they had enough inside, they went out to the playground.
There was a lot of friendly chat going on, much about gardening and the food that was brought to swap. While many of these people seemed to know each other, they were also very welcoming of newbies and there were a few of us there for the first time.
I will make the effort to go again to this food swap, but the timing of it can be tricky with my children's weekend sports, so I might only be able to make it there for a part of time, but it's OK to do that.
I took home a real variety. Limes, kale, Jerusalem artichokes, silver beet and herbs