How To Start a Produce Exchange in Your Neighborhood

How do I start a local produce exchange on hyperlocavore.com?

What is a produce exchange? How is it different from a ‘yard share‘?

A produce exchange is an informal gathering of people who are already growing extra food in their yards. Some groups invite non growers to participate but that is up to each group. A yard share is an arrangement to share the work and share the harvest. You can set up either on hyperlocavore but in this post we are focusing on a produce exchange.

Let’s say you have a lovely large lemon tree which produces more lemons than you could ever squeeze. And let’s say Joseph down the way has a fig tree, and the Lees around the block have a giant rosemary bush, and your friend Marguerite has yet again planted way too many tomato plants. You start to get the image. There is a cornucopia of tastiness within a quarter mile. It’s time to start a produce exchange or perhaps a food donation system for a shelter in your neighborhood.

To see and example of an existing local produce exchange on hyperlocavore take a look at the Lamorinda Produce Exchange Many thanks to Amy Greacen who organized it.

How do I get a produce exchange going in my neighborhood?

1. Create a group on hyperlocavore.com. Be sure to name it in a way that is easy and clear.

  • go to pods/groups from the top (tab) menu on hyperlocavore.com
  • towards the right of the screen hit + Add a Group
  • enter the details of your group and hit Save at the lower part of the screen.
  • when you save the group there will be an opportunity to invite people to that group on the following screen. Use this feature if you have the emails of friends who may be interested.

2. If you don’t have emails then create a flier for your neighborhood, cafes, houses of worship to find interested gardeners. Many folks are just overwhelmed by all the extra they have and would love an opportunity to move it. On the flyer be sure to list the groups page on hyperlocavore so people can find you online easily.

Content example for your produce exchange flier:

Join us in starting a neighborhood produce exchange:
Some of us have extra lemons, some have extra figs.
We will have a biweekly produce exchange at the corner of Main and 4th every
other Saturday. Bring the kids!

We are organizing online at:
Lamorinda Produce Exchange Online is at:
http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/group/lafayetteproduceexchange

You don’t have to be a grower to be involved!
For more information call Edna Wreems at 555-414-1212 or email her at edna@—

Your groups rules.

The details of how your group works, when it meets and who can participate is up to you. Use your group page for hashing these issues out or meet in person and post your decisions. You are able to have a ‘members only’ discussion on the site.

Is there a limit to the number of people?
Must everyone bring something every time?
Can people bring prepared foods such as jams, baked foods, cheeses, pestos or chutneys.
Will you have a monthly BBQ or potluck to make it a real community?
Is exchange of money for things allowed?

Other ways to work together:

  • create a group tool lending library
  • create a seed exchange
  • create a community comport pile
  • do a group run to the nursery or hardware store
  • have a yard building party to help a newbie grower install raised beds
  • go on a scavenged materials hunt
  • start a bulk buying club to reduce costs
  • start a group meat buying club – free range cow? not so expensive when you share the cost.
  • have a neighborhood ‘jam session’ – some people make jellies and jam – and maybe other folks bring their guitars!

How you work together, how creative you get in supporting each other is up to you!

Are there legal considerations?

Hyperlocavore.com does not give legal advice, however Nolo press puts out a terrific book called The Sharing Solution which is available for purchase on hyperlocavore.com and hyperlocavore.wordpress.com

Be sure to let the rest of the people on hyperlocavore.com know how your produce exchange is working by posting to your profile or in the discussion forums!


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What is yardsharing?

TAKING A BREAK © Vossphotog... | Dreamstime.com

TAKING A BREAK © Vossphotog... | Dreamstime.com

“You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.”

– Michelle Obama on the Whitehouse Vegetable Garden

hyperlocavore.com,” which blends bottom-up collaboration with food production. It’s an example of peer-to-peer agriculture, and it’s a pretty neat concept. The founder of hyperlocavore wrote to me, saying that she thought this was a pretty “worldchanging” idea. I agree. Check ’em out.”

– Jamais Cascio
openthefuture.com and worldchanging.com


What is a ‘hyperlocavore’?

A hyperlocavore is a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Growing your own is as local as it gets!

What is ‘yardsharing’?

Yard sharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper!

Why would I want to set up a yardsharing group?

Yard sharing is a way to connect people who love to garden, people who love healthy fresh food and people who have yards! Often people who have yards have little time time for a vegetable garden. And sometimes gardeners have trouble finding soil to garden in because they rent an apartment! Sometimes older people lack stamina and are socially isolated, finding younger people to partner in growing food together works wonderfully for all. There are all kinds of reasons it makes sense.

Yard sharing works for:

  • apartment dwellers
  • busy parents
  • older people
  • frugalistas
  • foodies
  • tree huggers
  • cheap bastards
  • farmers lacking land
  • land holders lacking farmers
  • people sick of leaf blowers
  • curious kids
  • folks with a disability
  • people who want to get outside more
  • people that want to eat better
  • people that want to eat cheaper
  • people who want to make their community resilient
  • people who like their food super fresh
  • people worried about peak oil
  • and maybe you! (if you’re not on the list – send me a note!)

Yard sharing cuts down on greenhouse gases by limiting the travel time of fruit and vegetables to your table.
Yard sharing is a great way to connect with your family, friends and neighbors!
Yard sharing helps you eat more veggies!
Yard sharing can be a workable solution for people with physical limitations who want to eat better and more cheaply.
Yard sharing is an excellent way to teach children about food and biology!
Yard sharing is a great way to get cheaper produce to older people on a fixed income!
Yard sharing helps you get enough vitamin D from sunshine!
Yard sharing is a way to avoid pesticides and other chemicals on your food!
Yard sharing is a fun activity to share!
Yard sharing helps to create independent local food systems that are less sensitive to the price of oil.

And nothing tastes as good as food you grew yourself!

Who can yard share?

Anyone! If you don’t see a group for your area just create one! Then send invites to people in your neighborhood, your friends and
their friends and maybe you will find someone willing to start with you!

OK, Sign me up! No! Wait, is it free? Yes? OK, Sign me up!


No thanks, but I do want to take a look.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!


hyperlocavore.com is a free social network here to help you form a yard sharing group with people in your neighborhood, a group of friends, a community restaurant and it’s neighbors, members of your family, faith communities or new friends made on hyperlocavore.

How to Start A Produce Exchange in Your Neighborhood – Share Your Extra Fruits and Vegetables!


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Yardsharing Return on Investment – How Does 61K Sound?

Growing food together may not be for everyone, but for the frugal healthy eaters amongst us it makes a lot of sense and cents. When you grow fruit and veg together you can share tools, space and work. So let’s assume you and two friends decide to start a yardsharing garden to save some money on fresh organics, have a healthy outdoor activity to share, and to teach your kids that food does not come from Walmart.

green_apples_sm1
GREEN APPLES
© Digidogs | Dreamstime.com

Also keep in mind that when we talk about return on investment for planting your own gardens we are taking into account all of the benefits of growing our own food, which are not strictly about personal economies. There are so many reasons to grow your own, saving great heaping gobs of cash is just one.

Let’s say your families agree that almonds, Granny Smith apples, and blueberries are a good place to start, and so off we go. These are back of the napkin calculations. I am not factoring in anything too complicated like seasonality, storage, inflation, peak oil or buying local. You may pick different crops. I simply picked three things I spend a lot of money on. Almonds and blueberries shock me every time I buy them. Both are considered ‘superfoods,’ densely packed nutrition in perfect snacky form.

Let’s assume that each of our families enjoys approximately:

  • 2 lbs organic Granny Smith apples @ $4.50 per week.
  • 1 lb organic anti-oxidant rich blueberries @ $12.00 per week.
  • .5 lb organic almonds @ 7.00 per week

That’s about $24.00 per week per family, or about $1250.00 per family per year for three pretty basic healthy staples. It’s $3750.00 per year for all three families to eat yummy organic green apples, blueberries and almonds. Now let’s assume that to produce this amount for three families you will need:

  • 4 almond trees (producing about 64 lbs per year)
  • 2 apple trees (producing about 600 lbs per year)
  • 15 mature blueberry bushes (producing about 150 pounds per year)

Your group wants the benefit sooner rather than later so you agree to purchase mature trees and shrubs.

  • 4 producing almond trees – 8′ @ $80.00 = $320.00
  • 2 producing apple trees 8′ @ $90.00 = $180.00
  • 15 producing blueberry bushes 4′ @ $40.00 = $600.00

Your one time investment is about $1700.00 (plus tax and shipping) for all three families, including one time purchase of tools and starting garden costs using a rough figure of $600.00, assuming you have no tools between you and your soil needs a lot of help. Add some sweat equity and a year to let the trees and shrubs settle in.

This works out to about $600.00 per family for 20 years worth of apples, almonds and blueberries! Growing their own saves all three families a total of $74,000.00 over 20 years. – Assuming your families share, or 24K, is conservatively invested expecting a 2.8 % return over those 20 years and adjusted for inflation – that’s $61,072.13 clams via the magic of compound interest!

Now the almond trees, treated well, will produce almonds for 40+ years. The apples for 30, and you may need to replace the blueberries. We’re just playing with pens and napkins after all.

So, how do you like them apples, almonds, and blueberries?

Note: Numbers were revised on Feb. 5th after being published on Feb 4th 2009.