Local food producers of every kind often run into the problem of having excess food that goes to waste. Gardeners often end up with extra vegetables that will spoil if not sold or given away. Beekeepers often gather much more honey than they can possibly consume themselves. Not everyone has the extra time to rent out a booth at a marketplace and spend their weekends setting it up and selling it all, plus starting a marketplace can be daunting. Sometimes you just need a place for people in your neighborhood to meet together and trade their excess produce in a barter fashion.
A swap meet is the ultimate barter gathering that solves this problem, and you can organize one in your own neighborhood.
What could a Swap Meet accomplish in your neighborhood?
- Networking Opportunity – A swap meet can provide a networking opportunity for homesteaders, farmers, and gardeners in the community to meet one another. They can organically form friendships and new ideas for bartering together
- A Platform – A swap meet may just be held once every 2 weeks or so, but it’s a place set aside for the people in the neighborhood. Sometimes people just need a place to meet, network, and work together to be empowered in their neighborhood.
- A Barter Economy – Bartering is more of a low-key and relaxed form of exchange. There is less pressure than a sales market, and people can trade their excess produce that they don’t want for something that they do want. Extra produce that would have just been turned into compost doesn’t go to waste.
Important questions to ask yourself before starting a swap meet:
How committed will I be as well as the participants?
Do you want to give up every other Sunday of your entire summer? Are you willing to stay consistent? Will enough participants actually show up to keep it going? Nothing will make a swap meet fizzle out faster than half-commitments and an inconsistent attendance. It might be a good idea to start small, just 3-4 people, and see how everything goes before seeking more participants.
Is this going to be an open or closed swap meet?
If you’re organizing a swap meet among specific people, the simplest and best solution may be to keep it a closed group. It’s much easier to organize a smaller closed group of people than to take on the task of managing a swap meet that’s open to the public. Not to mention local laws and regulations on produce and foods may become a hurdle and place limits on what’s allowed.
What is the scope of items for the swap meet?
You want to clearly define the type of swap meet you’re organizing. If the type of items allowed for the swap meet isn’t clear from the beginning it could easily turn into more of a junk meet. Perhaps it will be very clearly defined such as Vegetables Only or Dairy Only. Or it may be more lenient such as Homestead Products Only. The unique local producers in your community will help you to determine the best scope of items allowed for your swap meet.
Where to hold a swap meet?
There are many possibilities for venues to host the swap meet. It could be on someone’s private property or a rented space at a library, college, fairgrounds, or other available space. Since the bartering is not for profit purposes, many venues may be more open to allowing you to rent the space without charge.
A swap meet is something that YOU CAN DO, and the results can help to bring your neighborhood together in a unique way.