Sunday, April 29, 2012

Voices of sharing food

2011 Crop Swap
Last year August marked the first South Berkeley/North Oakland Crop Swap at the historic Lorin Station at the corner of Alcatraz and Adeline. It was such a warm occasion to start new friendships and to engage in an age old tradition brought to life – sharing homegrown food. And, the day marked another chance to share, make new acquaintances, help others, and to remember that we all have some common touch points. We all have reason to remember to celebrate what we have by giving to others. It is with this spirit that the Victory Garden Foundation and Transition Berkeley share with you the voices from our previous Crop Swap. 

2012 Crop Swap starts May 20
We look forward to seeing you this year at the Crop Swap starting on Sunday, May 20, 1 – 2 pm. Since the 2011 Crop Swaps were such a success; this year, it will be held  Sunday. We want all backyard gardeners in the area to participate and we’re seeking volunteers to help manage the event – it’s an easy thing to do. And, as always, if you do not have produce to swap; please come out anyway and engage is inspiring conversations while meeting new and old neighbors and just enjoy the hour – pick up something to take home. It’s also a great place to learn what’s happening in your ‘hood.
Come on out and enjoy an hour of fun and music with The Crane and The Crow (formerly known as Gods+Others) -

The Crane and The Crow
These Crop Swaps are for you and you can shape the focus. We hope that the voices of sharing food will inspire and encourage you to participate in this community building and connection event. Here’s what people said last year and a glimpse into what happens at a Crop Swap:

“The event was beautiful and brought life to an underutilized corner. Setting this event amidst the native plant garden at Loren Station was ideal.”
Crop Swaps and urban agriculture are clearly catching on in a big way, reconnecting people to the earth and to each other, empowering people and making the community stronger. The large number of people interested in sharing home grown food is encouraging and their enthusiasm is contagious. People who came to the first Lorin Station Crop Swap were talking about their crops, how to grow them, their nutritional benefits, and how to prepare them. Patches of recipes could be heard in the friendly conversations between people meeting for the first time. 

“I am amazed by the variety of foods being raised by neighbors who live all around us from eggs to Asian pears, to cucumbers, hot peppers and summer squash. “
Green beans were the most plentiful in August and leftover produce was donated to a local Berkeley shelter. People who currently aren't growing food picked up produce, potted plants, flowers and seeds. They often had stories of their childhood gardening experiences. This tells us that to teach a child about vegetable gardening is to give a lifelong gift. Teachers, neighbors, grandparents and parents; let's all keep giving our children this precious gift.

“I liked the baskets and other containers people used to carry their abundance to market.  Some of the finer details, such as hand decorated clay pots allowed people to share their creativity as well as their bounty.”
“This is amazingly energizing! “
“Today I took about 10 bruised apples and 5 perfect, if green ones, and came home with a bunch of green beans, zucchini, Asian pears, one beet with beautiful greens, tomatoes, oregano...and all of my Gravensteins were snapped up!”
This location seemed to bring about the spirit of days gone by when we were all neighbors and friends and we met at the Lorin Station, the last stop before Berkeley along the Berkeley Branch line of the Central Pacific railway. This was the settlement of Lorin (before annexed to Berkeley).

 “I just met a lady today who said something nice. I stated I didn't feel worthy to take the painted clay pot when I just needed the basil to add to my herb spiral. She said I should think of it as a gift, but then plant something else in it next month and return it to the swap if I really don't need it. She also said she could use the adorned porcelain saucer that accompanied it. So we each took a piece.”
And the energy that emanated from Lorin Station moved some to write about their experience in their blogs. This is just the beginning of spread the word of sharing, engaging, extending and building community.
Kristi's meal
This amazing one hour meeting of like minds seems endless in time since so many that gathered at the first Crop Swap continue to communicate and share ideas and energy.

“I had the opportunity to share some of the oregano bruja I got at the Nuestras Raices farm last year and have been keeping going using cuttings. I have been making a lovely salad dressing using it, lime juice, olive oil and hot peppers, perfect on a tomato, cuke, corn & pepper salad. Everyone was so generous with their harvest, time and knowledge.”
This is just a sample of some of the impressions and conversations at the Lorin Station Crop Swap. If you want to contribute to this exciting meeting of neighbors; join in at the local Crop Swap at Lorin Station – an historical site bringing back the neighbors connecting for a common good. Plant some extra radishes and greens, glean produce in your neighborhood, and bring a recipe, something to help the gardeners continue to grow backyard food like seeds and planter containers. Experience a new vegetable, herb, or fruit.  And, just stop by to meet your neighbors and talk about ‘things.’ All are welcome – gardeners and consumers. 

“The remains of the day: many green beans, Asian pears, cucumbers, and oregano to the Berkeley Food and Shelter place on Dwight just a half block East of Shattuck."

Many thanks for Carole Bennett-Simmons and Barbara Edwards of Transition Berkeley for teaming with Victory V Lee, founder/president, Victory Garden Foundation to co-produce and co-sponsor the Lorin Station Crop Swap. 

For more information about the Lorin Station Crop Swap, contact Victory V Lee, founder, Victory Garden Foundation at Visit the foundation’s Facebook page ( and follow on
Or, contact Carole Bennett-Simmons at Be sure to visit for more information.

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