Swap Shuffle Share in Your Neighbourhood

by Jenny Hanna

Photo of a small SSS in my street

Swaps Shuffle Share (SSS) is a great local gathering where people swap excess homegrown produce, seeds, cuttings, preserves, and other extras. Items may include fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, seeds, seedlings, gardening tips, worm castings and worms, but can also lead easily to skill sharing, storytelling and some handme-down proven family recipes. Oh and it usually involves tea, coffee, cake and some biscuits. 

SSS are generally and ideally money-free and work through a trust system. People bring their produce, put it on the table and then browse once a bit of everything is displayed. No one is watching or keeping an eye on who takes what. There is a sense of trust, honesty and fairness among the attendees.  Sometimes if you have not brought anything, it’s ok too. You can contribute a skill, help with set up or pack up or just be an addition to the friendliness vibe.

Why are some people motivated to organise or initiate a local SSS?  Here’s a few reasons:  to share delicious produce,  to create friendships, to help build communities, to reduce waste and to provide an opportunity for everyone to tackle food access issues.

Kids enjoying the cakes and biscuits and discovering the joy of seedlings  at SSS

Start One in Your Neighbourhood

One neighbour showed us how to make newspaper pots

Why not start one in your area. It is not hard. It’s really just a matter of setting a place and a time and getting the word out. Utilise whatever means of gettting the word out that works best for you – social media, letterbox drop, or door knock if you’re up for it. 

Choose a location for the swap – it could be your back verandah as a start – that has some protection from the weather. Have a table or tables, drinking water and make a toilet available. Parking space nearby can help as people may come with loads of plants to share. Morning tea is optional – tea, coffee and a plate to share can be requested – but it helps make people feel welcome.  It also helps if the space is kid-friendly as some parents would be glad to come if they can bring their little children. With timings, it is important to make it regular so people can plan their attendance – for example, the 3rd Sunday of the month, 10 am to 12 noon.

The most important rule is … don’t make rules. Just bring your items, put them on the table and share. 

I have personally attended SSS events one-on-one with a neighbour, with six other people, and with bigger groups of maybe over 60. It never fails to give me joy for what I have shared and for what I have received in return!

PermacultureWest SSS event

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