How to create a successful food swap


As well as reading the material below, have a look at the following guide to setting up a food swap produced by Melbourne-based Cultivating Community.

(The material below has been provided by the Macleod Food Swap)

To be successful, food swaps have to be primarily about people. The food is a secondary consideration. A swap will succeed food wise when the people who attend feel welcome and part of a community. We tell people that we are primarily interested in developing our community.

Generally a swap starts with a small number of people getting together (6-12) but it is after that that the real work begins. Sustaining and growing the meeting is the challenge. To this end, Macleod food swap has several people set up the swap (usually 4) so that it happens quickly and these people are free to talk with those arriving.

We make sure we have at least 3 greeters each time who look out for new people and people who have been once or twice before. The greeters go up to these people, introduce themselves, find out the person’s name, generally chat and explain how the swap works, when it is on and ask if they would like to be on the email list.

Then they introduce them to other people who have been coming for some time so that they have people to talk to. We get very positive feedback about this process. People love to feel welcome!

Finally, we have at least 2 people to write down what people bring and assist in weighing the produce both to quicken this process and also because it gives us an opportunity to chat with people and thank them for what they have brought.

  14 Responses to “How to create a successful food swap”

  1. Hi,

    Although I do not grow produce I am interested, if possible, in swapping maybe just a few homegrown vegetables. What can I use to swap other than clean jars? I had so many jars as Reverse Art Truck, Greenwood no longer take them and suggested that they just go into the re-cycling bin! I have done that but it was not a good feeling.

    Will continue to thoroughly de-label, clean jars if this may be an avenue.

    Look forward to your response. Thanking you in advance. Teresa

    • Hi Teresa,

      Food swaps are more of a social thing than a swapping thing. You can go along anything that is related to your food growing or food making – it doesn’t matter how much or how little. Then you have a chat and when you leave you take whatever you want. Just pop along to your local food swap and you will see how they work.

  2. Hi there
    Wondering why you weigh the produce at swaps?

  3. I’d like to join or start a food swap at Bayside area. I live in Mordialloc. I’d love to hear from anyone who is interested.

  4. I’m interested in your comment about weighing food – we just put it all on a table and people help themselves to what they want. How do others do it?

    • Hi Jane,

      I think all swaps work on the basis of “we just put it all on a table and people help themselves to what they want”. My understanding is that Macleod (and some others) weigh and record the produce simply for interest.

  5. I am from Parkdale / Mentone area in Victoria and is interested in starting a food swap program in my local area. have you heard of others that are in this Bayside area who are interested?

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