Have bushels of lemons but want some tomatoes? The cropswap app connects gardeners so that they can share in each other's abundance.
I am pretty sure that my mom's backyard in Southern California was home to the world's most prolific grapefruit tree. There were always so many grapefruits. They were gorgeous – rosy, enormous, and bittersweet – and way more than one family could possibly eat without, I don't know, dying. Meanwhile, the avocado trees dropped their fruit more rapidly than could be collected (though the squirrels were on that task; clearly the healthiest squirrels to have ever lived). Not to mention the showers of dates that fell from the palms. There were efforts to share the bounty with neighbors, but one thing is for sure: Mom could have used Cropswap.
Cropswap is a free app that connects home gardeners with one another. Maybe if you live in a small town, swaps of crops are an established tradition. But for urban gardeners especially, the initial connection with other growers is harder to come by. We may have more peppers than we know what to do with in my Brooklyn garden; meanwhile, who knows, a few gardens down might be a family with figs galore, just wishing they had some tomatoes. The idea of a crop swap is not new, but an application to facilitate it all is a great step forward.
The app is the brainstorm of gardener and environmentalist Dan McCollister, who teamed up with an app developing friend, Roberto Reiner, to not only help gardeners, but to help our broken food system.
McCollister explains to TreeHugger, "I’m an urban gardener and environmentalist who created this app after seeing the FLAWS of our industrial food system up close. I found it and still find it SO SILLY that people in LA buy lemons from an industrial grocery store….that were grown in Mexico, shipped in a semi, then are often THROWN AWAY if not purchased. This is a dumb system and that’s what I’m trying to reform."
The app helps people unload their bounty by uploading it to the app, and then they can trade, sell, or donate it. Meanwhile, seekers can find where to trade or purchase hyper local produce. There is also a way to create swapping events, which sound kind of like pop-up farmers markets for home gardeners.
There is a lot to love about this idea, from cutting out the exorbitant waste in the typical supermarket supply chain to building community and getting to know like-minded folks in your area. Not to mention, of course, access to the freshest, most local produce ... and a few less grapefruits and a few more of something else instead.
See more in the video below.