How to Find, Swap, Share or Sell Local Fruits and Vegetables

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The other day while perusing the world wide web, I came across a new start-up company called called Ripe Near Me on Treehugger.  The aim of the company is to make finding local produce easier and more convenient, because let’s be honest, unless you have a year round farmers market {Go HERE for a directory to farmers markets in Washington} in your area, it can be a real hassle to seek out local produce.  Ripe Near Me hopes to create an extensive database that allows users to type in their area and find local produce, not just farmers markets, but also from local gardening enthusiasts with excess produce and known public foraging sites.  If this company can pull it off, I would totally be up for putting my excess produce on the site–AND swapping for other people’s.  Seriously, how cool would that be?

how to glean free plums

You already know how I feel about food waste.  It’s bad, bad, bad.  It seems to me that local produce is pretty abundant, we just need to know how to FIND it.  Last year, The Girl and I were able to get free plums from a local couple who had waaaaay more plums than they could handle.  We got lucky.  I saw a handwritten cardboard sign, “Free U-Pick Plums” and stopped.  You bet I did.  In return, we gave the couple some of our eggs and some heirloom tomatoes.

Foraging for Free Food – Where to Find the Good Stuff

Foraging on public lands is another great way to get local produce.  Last year, I found a website that locals could post free foraging locations in their area.  There are tons of public locations that have fruit trees, berry patches, etc. that you can forage for food, if you want to put the time in.  Most of the time, the food would go to waste otherwise.  The problem is, more often than not, you have to rely on word of mouth to know where the hot spots are located.  Having a map where other foragers share their finds gives you a place to start.  In an effort to pay it forward, if you know of good foraging locations, you should totally hop on the site and let other people know.

heirloom vegetable stand

You can also start by hooking people up with YOUR own excess produce {remember, you never know what you will be able to get in return–it’s always an adventure}.  Last year, I decided to make a little extra cash on some of my excess produce {while still giving my local peeps a steal of a deal}.  I set up a little table with heirloom tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, rhubarb, and lettuce.  I left a sign that said, “Fresh vegetables.  Pay or leave what you like in exchange.”  Wouldn’t you know it, I ended up with $33 and quite a few food products.

bartering food

And, of course, if you want to keep it simple, just start with the people you know.  Your neighbors may totally be willing to barter with you.  I’ve traded my garden veggies for all sorts of food stuffs.  It saved me a trip to the store, and they got fresh homegrown organic produce.  It’s win-win.

How about YOU, how do you find local produce?

~Mavis

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Comments

  1. Tracy Sch says:

    This is an awesome idea, although nothing near me yet. I am always on the lookout for u-pick and free fruit for canning, veggies from farmers, etc.

  2. Jessica J says:

    Thank you for sharing this :) this is perfect for me since we are not allowed to have any kind of a “food stand” in our HOA. Would love to get a swap going since we have a ton of greens this year.

    • Hi Jessica – is there a message board in there or grocery store – perhaps you could post a message about bartering your produce. Or start a facebook group for you development for selling/trading stuff like this and expand it to kids toys, clothes etc.

  3. This is awesome! I started a local gardening barter group on Facebook but I’m seriously considering deleting my facebook account and what I’ll miss the most is that group. This is a fantastic alternative!

  4. Terrill says:

    I love that some urban foragers will pick free public (or private with permission) land produce/fruit and donate it to local food rescue sites and food banks. They keep a bit for themselves and donate the rest.

  5. E in Upstate NY says:

    Maris, think you have bad link. Tried “I found a website that locals could post free foraging locations in their area.” and it brought me to this page, again.

    Want so much to trade not have to pay the high prices at the Farmers’ Market. However, one farmer now has Portobello Mushrooms for sale at half the local grocery store price! Yeah for that. But he just will not bargain at the end of the day for anything. :(

  6. Another option for your own extra produce is to donate it to the local food bank or soup kitchen. both of these organizations in our town are very happy to take extra produce & the clients are very happy to get something they rarely, if ever, can afford to buy.

    I often post on Facebook among my friends – either to give away, trade or for soemthing I’m looking for. I’m rarely turned down for free things & have found trades as well.

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