Another productive share and swap was held in our neighbourhood this month. We enjoyed catching up over home-baked cookies, muffins and banana cake, all made with organic, free-range eggs. A flock of free ranging chickens pecked at broccoli leaves in the garden. Their eggs go into making pastries, cakes, and home-made pasta. The pasta is also dried and stored – a good way of using surplus eggs.
We shared surplus lemons, garlic seedlings, herbs, celery and seasonal greens, and talked about our plans for spring and summer. One aspect of this neighbours share and swap which I really enjoy is visiting each other’s gardens. We can see where some of the surplus produce is grown and learn different ways of creating productive spaces and managing them.
Hedwig’s front garden – September 2014 Share & Swap
A year ago, the lawn was removed from this front garden and replaced with a dozen fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, lavender and roses. It is already a productive and beautiful space, attracting bees and other beneficial insects. Many of the plants were rescued from other gardens and the rocks shaping the garden path were salvaged from a friend’s garden. There are many more fruit trees in the backyard, as well as a variety of berries, passion fruit, grape vines and vegetable beds.
June 2014 Share & Swap table
Earlier this year, we visited Rob’s garden in June, and Di’s garden in July. We shared olives, pumpkins, vegetable seedlings, limes and lemons, nuts, winter greens gardening magazines, fresh herbs, mandarins, fermented cake starter with recipe, honey and oranges.
Di’s backyard – July 2014 Share & Swap
Di grows her garden according to permaculture principles. She uses clumping bamboo for summer shade, home-made stakes and garden structures. To save water, summer vegetables are grown in wicking beds. In this garden, there is also a productive beehive.
Di’s chickens – July 2014 Share & Swap
The soil has been improved over many years with home-made compost and chicken manure. Di’s chickens free range in a large, enclosed run in the backyard. They have access to plenty of shade in summer.
Rob’s backyard – June 2014 Share & Swap
In Rob’s garden, the entire back yard has been turned into a vegetable and fruit-growing area using raised beds. The vertical structures around the beds are covered with shade cloth during summer. This is a hugely productive backyard which supplies Rob and his extended family with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables all year round.
Another view of Rob’s backyard – June 2014 Share & Swap
Rob’s compost bays – June 2014 Share & Swap
So far, everyone who has hosted a swap makes their own compost and harvests rain water into back yard tanks – from 3000 to 60,000 litres. For those of us who have a garden, making it productive is one aspect of living more sustainably. We can improve soil, manage water resources, reduce waste, care for animals, preserve and share surplus produce, while growing local, organic food.