Not all people are lucky enough to have fresh fruits and vegetables provided to them regularly and close to home. NeighborWorks Sacramento is an organization that promotes and encourages the improvement in the health of Oak Park residents through their Oak Park Crop Swap program. NeighborWorks believes that strong and thriving communities help residents enjoy a better quality of life, so by organizing and setting up a program that allows local residents to trade organic foods and educate each other is the perfect way to encourage the community towards that way of life.
The Oak Park Crop Swap is a community based exchange of home grown vegetables in a regular venue for swappers to meet and trade produce. Members of the Crop Swap meet at McClatchy Park every Monday from 6:00p.m. to 7:00p.m. where vegetables, fruit, flowers and gardening stories can be shared.
In the Spring of 2008, some residents of Oak Park wanted a community garden. When the residents found out how long the process would take to build one, they came up with a new idea. They decided to grow chemical and pesticide free crops in community member’s backyards and bring them to a single location to trade. The Oak Park Crop Swap was quickly a success with twenty households regularly attending that first season. Residents soon discovered which backyards were best to grow leafy greens were and which were good at producing juicy tomatoes. Not only did the Oak Park Crop Swap create a new way of produce production, but also a new way to share gardening tips and topics. Community members now hold presentations on beekeeping, composting, how to build cob ovens, and many more topics.
“The Crop Swap has become a great way for the local farmers to beat the hard economic times,” says Alex Bern, member of NeighborWorks. “Not only are the farmers finding better ways to make money and help themselves, the swappers are each helping out each other by growing different types of vegetables or sharing new information.”
Each Monday during the spring season, crop swappers bring their fresh produce to McClatchy Park. Each grower signs in and then weighs and records their produce. A pre-announced presentation covering a gardening topic is held to teach all the participants about an important skill. After thirty minutes of the presentation, the members of the Crop Swap are free to choose the produce they would like to take home.
For more information on the Oak Park Crop Swap or for the guidelines to growing visit the NeighborWorks website at nwsac.org or call (916) 452-5356.
Photos taken from flickr.com’s creative commons.