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Matakana Greenswappers keep their neighbours fed during lockdown

Published: 20 May 2020

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Sharing produce is a great way to save money and reduce waste.

When Trish Allen moved to Matakana Village, she planted 50 fruit trees around her home. Now, they are producing a massive crop that she enjoys sharing with the local community.

She looks forward to the weekly Greenswap meet-up down by the river in Matakana village, where enthusiastic gardeners bring the surplus produce from their gardens and swap it for something they need. 

Rodney Local Board deputy chair Beth Houlbrooke is proud of the important role these neighbours are playing in the community.

During lockdown, they found a way for food to get passed around the community, contactless and with a high standard of hygiene. Trish was able to share 141 kilograms of free produce with her neighbours thanks to what she describes as “a bumper year of apples, pears, bananas, feijoas, persimmons, grapes, tomatoes, zucchinis and greens.

“When I know a neighbour needs something, or a Greenswapper will be passing, I box it up and put it out by my gate. And, I get all kinds of unexpected things dropped off inside my gate which is always such a wonderful surprise!

"I’ve had macadamias, field mushrooms, eggs, seedlings, hot cross buns, seaweed, sea grass and horse poo. All gratefully received. Nothing goes to waste.”

Jenni Francis has been active in the Greenswap since its beginning. She plants her garden with the community in mind because “It’s the best way to get to know your neighbours, who become friends. I grow a variety of vegetables that I’m not that fussed on, but I know someone else will love that cabbage, kale, marrow and will swap it for something I like.”

Sharing produce is a great way to save money and reduce waste. The positive impacts for the planet are as rewarding as the savings to your pocketbook. Each year, Aucklanders put about 100,000 tonnes of food waste into their rubbish bins. Diverting food from landfill is one of the biggest climate change interventions an individual can make.

The Greenswappers have adapted a lot over their 12 years of meeting up and are hoping to see each other face to face soon. Participants attribute the meet-up’s success to the fact that it is quick, just half an hour from 9am-9.30am on Fridays. People can fit it into their day – after dropping the kids at school or on the way to work. The word gets passed on through a Facebook group page, and everyone is welcome. They also swap recipes, advice, growing tips, seeds, seedlings, cuttings, plants, flowers, fertilised chicken eggs – you name it.

Angie Gibbons, one of the organisers encourages people to stop by, sharing that she felt welcomed immediately and has created community connections and great friendships from Matakana Greenswap and the community garden.

Read more: Waste Environment


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