Crop Swappers enjoy the Fruit of Everyone's Labours

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

First Swap of the season for 2020 at the new venue at Cromwell Heritage Precinct

The Cromwell Crop Swap was started by Georgie Affleck when she was Connect's Community Liaison in 2019. George had seen what other communities were doing around New Zealand to get people together to share garden surpluses.

Glen Christiansen, manager of The Gate hotel was keen to help and offered the hotel's café tables as a venue.

Our first Crop Swap drew a small bunch of gardeners and from there the word spread.

Here's a list of some of the goodies that have been bought along, swapped and shared and gone home by the basket, bag and container load... salad greens, eggs, rhubarb, jam, pickles, preserves, wax food wrap, herbs, fruit by the mile, potatoes, kombucha, chickens, artichokes and more.

We had one Crop swap in the school holidays when only two people came but aside from that we've had full tables every time.

It's so simple to run...arrive about ten minutes before start time, put up the lovely sign Georgie made, wait until most people seem to have arrived then get everyone to go around and tell what they have bought, how it's grown, how to cook it or anything else they'd like to share.

Any left over herbs or fruit are donated to The Gate's appreciative chef and staff.

Two of three orphaned chicks bought along to the February Swap found homes after getting lots of cuddles. Mellisa McCarty and Rebel Wilson are now doing very well with their new family, they've even been bathed and blow-dried! Ursula Carlson is also doing well but is still looking for a home.

ABOVE: Crop Swap founder George Affleck and Forage Cafe manager Tracey Scoles before the first Swap in late 2019. At rear is the sign George sewed that hangs at each meet.

We had an enforced break due to Covid and are continuing a break over winter as not much grows here in Central. The rest of the year it would be great to be Crop Swapping every month so if you're keen to make it happen please get in touch. It's very informal, no money ever changes hands, new friends are made and gardening tips shared. We do need gardeners to run or help run the event as we are only two and can't be there every time.

New Crew- October 2020

Nita Smith and Beck Brugman are now running the Crop Swap and it has a fabulous new venue at the rear of the Masonic Lodge, just off Cromwell Heritage Precinct's upper courtyard. Next dates Nov 21, Dec 12, 10.30am to 11.30am. They plan to hold a Swap every three weeks, check our facebook page for details. Thank-you Masonic Lodge for having us!

New faces and regulars at the season's last Swap on March 6, 2021. centre is Beck Brugman and to her right at rear co-host Nita Smith.

Crop Swap Set to Continue

We are delighted Nita and Beck are keen to carry on as custodians of the Cromwell Crop Swap after a great 2020/2021 summer season.

The final harvest crop was held on March 6 and the pair say they'll be kicking it off again in spring.

There's lots of ideas to encourage more people into gardening and avoid food waste...a preserving session where everyone gathers to make and share preserves was one. Learners could come along and gain very useful skills to help feed the family.

A tour of Cromwell veggie gardens was also mooted...from expert to starting out, ideas on what to grow and how can save people great expense and avoid frustrations.

Central Otago is not kind to newcomers from milder climes and if you buy the wrong thing(yes, the garden centres will happily sell them to you)expensive plants often get smaller rather than bigger when you take them home.

Thank-you Nita and Beck(and your supportive husbands) for a great job. There's always room for more to help so please get in touch if you're keen to be involved in hosting the Swap or developing any of the other ideas. Email: We all look forward to seeing this grow and flourish next season.


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