I discovered Veggie Trader the other day - a free online marketplace to swap or sell your own homegrown produce with other growers - and I am fascinated.
What a great idea for all that excess produce that often comes with home gardening. Growing up, my parents kept a 500 sq. foot garden in our backyard that produced more than enough to feed our four-person household. I remember boxes brimming with leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, gourds and string beans, as my mother and father went down their phonebooks in search of friends who might like to share our bounty. Veggie Trader would have certainly simplified the process.
The listing process seems very simple - create postings with what you'd like to buy, trade or sell (including pictures are encouraged) and wait for a response. When someone responds, your identity is kept anonymous until you feel comfortable enough to arrange your exchange. Of course, there are going to be an array of legal issues involved from licensing to taxes to general safety, so you must trade at your own risk. Still, the idea is a great one, especially in tough economic times - encouraging community values and representing the idea that variety and choice are still available.
Browsing through the postings, I was disappointed to find very few from the Chicago area. However, as a pilot effort by a couple in Oregon, the marketplace still has a long way to go. I do hope that with our collective efforts, Veggie Trader will eventually be in full swing over here in Chicago.