Gardeners come together to swap their produce at the springtime Federal Exchange.
Gardeners come together to swap their produce at the springtime Federal Exchange. Yvonne Gardiner

Locals share the fruits of their labours

THE overpowering, earthy scent of fresh produce fills the air metres before the gathering place in Federal Park is reached.

At the end of every season, on the last Saturday, Federal Exchange supporters come together to share and swap the fruits of their labours - vegetables, herbs, fruit, seeds, manure, honey, eggs, worm juice, flowers and cuttings.

Spring produce was on the tables on November 25. 

Keen swapper Fran Neilson lives on 22 acres at Federal with husband Peter and used to have an organic nursery.

She was taking home leeks, bok choy, black sapote and black bean seeds from her "exchange" visit.

"The idea of swapping produce with no money involved appeals to me," she said.

"I really like to come, even if I've got bits and bobs.

"I brought tomatoes, parsley, tarragon and lemongrass."

Growing her own food is a passion for Fran.

"We have a lot of fruit trees and chickens," she said.

"It's so nice to go down in the garden and come back with a basket of food that you know where it came from."

Richard Rowland, of Alstonvale, is a member of the Bangalow Garden Club and grows most of his own food on two acres.

He brought black bean seeds along to swap at the Federal Exchange, and says the connection with the community and sociability of the gathering is a drawcard.

"I feel close to people who garden. It's very good for your health," he said.

"I belong to the Seed Saving Club of Northern Rivers and we have meetings every two or three months."

The exchange is also a way of discovering food plants you've never seen or heard of before.

And supporters should leave their money at home - this is a rare, completely cash-free event.

For details about events, email thefederalexchange@gmail.com or check out www.facebook.com/thefederalexchange.


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