Lying just outside of the Southern Grampians shire, the Merino produce swap is one of the strongest in our area. Recently, swapper Kim Chintock shared just how the swap became so strong and how it’s evolved over the years. Could your community use some of these learnings to start a ‘swap’ of your own?
The idea of a Merino produce swap evolved out of the Food for Thought conference back in 2012. A presentation from existing Nareen Swap group inspired a small local group to try a similar thing, and six years later they’re still going strong.
The swap happens on the second Saturday of the month from 10am at the Merino Community Health Centre. A further idea stemmed from the swap team shortly after the swaps began, as the community centre had a large garden space, the team worked to establish a community garden. Starting with just three raised vegie beds, over time fruit trees, citrus buses and decorative plants have been established and maintained by volunteers.
At each swap, attendees give a gold coin donation towards morning tea. This has raised over $1000 to date that has been injected directly into the upkeep of the community garden.
Just recently, the swap group have changed their name to, ‘Merino Swap & Share’ because it's really about bringing anything along, putting it on the table and sharing. The word ‘share’ is important to the group, as not every transaction is a trade, you can bring along 'anything' and who knows you may take home a different 'anything'. Now, in addition to the monthly gatherings, excess produce and goods, especially in times of abundance at the entrance to the Merino Community Health Centre, for anyone to take or add to. The next step for the group is to create a Facebook group page where users can post what they have an excess of or goods they no longer require, as another means of maintaining the swapping culture between meets.
The concept of sharing is a growing trend worldwide and Merino is up there with it!