Some food swap history


Thanks to Julie French, Meredith Plain, Peta Christensen and April Muirden, we know that first ever Victorian food swap was Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES, established in 2004, and that the timeline was then:
2004: Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES.
2008: Fitzroy, then Footscray.
2009: Bulleen Art & Garden, then Greensborough.
2010: Montmorency.

See a 2008 article in The Age which discusses the establishment of a food swap in Footscray. As well as mentioning a swap at Fitzroy, that article also says that the Urban Orchard Food Swap at CERES started in 2004 and was Melbourne’s first.

Also see a 2007 article for Sustainable Melbourne written by the Urban Orchard swap coordinator at the time (Brad Shone).

Re the Fitzroy and CERES swaps, Peta (who, together with Glenda Lindsay and others, started the Fitzroy swap in early 2008) says: “I think it is safe to say that CERES were the first official food swap followed by Fitzroy. My husband Chris Ennis actually started the Urban Orchard idea at CERES after noticing a lot of fruit from trees being wasted around our neighbourhood in Thornbury. He started thinking that perhaps the people who planted the trees had moved on and a new generation of people had moved in who didn’t know the value of their trees, how to care for the trees, or what to do with all the fruit. He wanted to develop an easy way to re-distribute that food and support people to keep their fruit trees and think of them as an asset rather than a burden. After talking to people at CERES, the idea for the Urban Orchard swap table was born. The CERES model is more about people dropping off their produce and taking something else whilst they are at CERES doing their Saturday shopping whereas the Fitzroy Urban Harvest is more about creating a monthly event that would bring people together with the sole purpose of swapping produce and also catching up with other gardeners in their neighbourhood.” Peta also sent me their original 2008 flyer (pictured right)!

Re the Montmorency swap, Julie says: “Montmorency had a Food Growers Group operating between 2007 and 2009 (started by yours truly) that met monthly to discuss food gardening and share seedlings and (occasionally) excess produce. The Montmorency swap started following a public meeting in November 2009 to discuss Transition Towns. At that meeting, a number of key interest areas were identified, and small groups were formed to discuss what actions could be taken to progress those interests. Food was, of course, a topic of great interest to a number of people. A small group met (at my place) to talk about what some of the issues were under this broad topic, and found they were myriad and quite overwhelming. There had been some press about food swaps in inner Melbourne and Rachel Bishop, who had started the Greensborough swap, explained how easy it was to get one of these swaps going. It was decided this was a course of action that could be taken immediately without the need for too much planning or resources. Rachel lent us some signage for our first one, which was held at Montmorency Primary School on Sunday 26 September, 2010.” (posted January 11 2017)

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