It never fails. All it takes is the first glimpse of that burning orb up in the sky and the first warm spell. And suddenly every Oregonian is sprinting to the local garden store, grabbing their shovels, and frantically tilling their backyard beds or their local community gardens.
But come summer and early fall, what happens? That’s right: too many zucchini.
Enter Portland-based Veggie Trader, a social swapping site that uses the Web to help overbearing gardeners… err gardens share their bounty with others—and get vegetables they can use in return.
Or cash. (But cash doesn’t taste as good as veggies.)
Veggie Trader is our pilot effort to see if we can help more families eat well, make the most of the environment, and put more backyards to work for the benefit of neighbors, community and country.
We think knowing where your food comes from and supporting your local economy are more important these days than ever. And saving money (or making a little extra) doesn’t hurt either.
It’s an interesting idea. Most of the gardeners I know are forever in the process of sharing their fresh-grown goodies with friends and family. But it’s rare that they get anything in return. I mean, it’s kind of a Barter Town, “two men enter one man leave” sort of setup. Veggie Trader may help even the, um, scales.
At the very least, even some basic use of Veggie Trader’s service promises to keep things local and sustainable. (Look at me. I’m on a buying local kick.)
But they’re thinking bigger. They’re thinking about using the Veggie Trader community to facilitate cooperative gardening, where each grower takes care of certain items and the whole community gains.
The idea is pretty straight forward – a group of neighbors agrees at the start of the growing season to a list of produce they want to grow, and then each household raises the types of produce it believes they’re best at growing. By concentrating exclusively on just a few crops, each household will (in theory) enjoy greater yields and better quality produce. The resulting harvest can then be swapped and distributed among the whole group, with everybody getting a little bit of everything.
It sounds like a great—and ridiculously healthy—idea. Not to mention being something that any number of Silicon Forest types—vegetarian or otherwise—can, ahem, sink their teeth into.
Best of all, it could help cut down on waste. (It’s not hard to imagine how a surplus could benefit local folks with too little to eat.)
Now, if they can fix that over abundance of zucchini problem, I’ll be even more impressed.
(Hat tip Sarah Gilbert)