When my friend and I set out on a walk through her neighborhood, we never imagined we’d stumble upon an inspiring and heartwarming event along the journey; but, that’s one of the greatest things about life and its myriad potentials unfolding. Some blocks into our excursion, we came across a sign indicating that there was a ‘Veggie Exchange and Social’ taking place a mere block down the road.
“Let’s check it out,” my friend enthused. As an environmentalist and a former gardener who’d grown far more than her fair share of tomatoes one year, I was also pretty curious about the event.
The late day sun shone lower in the sky as we arrived, immediately to be warmly welcomed by two women still setting up the table of produce offered, and another table with wine, cheese and crackers. Baskets of bright red, orange, yellow, and green tomatoes sat beside Asian pears, squashes, apples, freshly cut flowers and the most delicious smelling basil.
“You don’t need to contribute or grow anything to take stuff,” we were assured, “If you are a gardener, you can bring extras you have of fruits, vegetables, flowers, or herbs. Otherwise, people bring wine, or a munchie, but mostly we just like to socialize and exchange with our neighbors.” As other local neighbors began arriving, I sipped crisp, refreshing wine, munched on cheese and crackers, and got an education in local neighborhood gardening exchanges. I found myself inspired at such a deep heart level as I took in the cheerful smiles and easy conversation around me.
As most gardeners know, there is usually something grown of which there is more than enough to go around. Being able to connect with the local community to trade the harvest surplus over wine, great eats and genuine conversation feels so important to me. While the World Wide Web offers us instant connectivity, studies have shown that social interactions in a community minded environment enriches our lives and enhances our health and well-being. Of course they do; we are tribal, social creatures.
Neighborhood garden exchanges are cropping up more and more, but can also be started in different areas with a little ingenuity. This incredible practice reconnects us with our immediate community, where extras can be traded along with gardening tips and loving smiles. How can this wonderful idea be adopted in some form in your neck of the world, Dear Reader?
Love and Blessings,
Photos by Antonia Hall