8 ways to set up a food sharing initiative

8 ideas for setting up a food swap initiativeI love the emails I get from you lovely waste warriors. They’re always full of interesting questions and pieces of information.

This week Helen wrote to me with a query about surplus produce. She wrote:

“I would love to start up a food sharing initiative locally, and I wonder if/how this happens in small, local communities already.

We have an allotment and frequently experience ‘gluts’ in fresh produce. Whilst these are certainly not unwelcome — we can always think of new ways to prepare the many kilos of courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes that our plot yields from mid to late-summer — it would be wonderful to be able to share them.

All too often, neighbours aren’t keen on receiving unexpected, unusually-shaped veg or curious jars of jams, pickles or chutney because they aren’t what they would usually buy and eat.”

I put this query out to our Facebook community and they came back with some awesome suggestions:

Allotment shop

Annie shared “Our local allotments have a little “shop” open to all on Sunday mornings.”

Ruth added “At our allotment we have a rack of old shelves near the entrance/ noticeboard with a sign on saying Glut share / Plant swap. Lots of marrows, windfall apples and a few beans there this week. Some locals come and take a few courgettes too.”

Facebook groups

Shona wrote “Our village has a Facebook group which we share recipes in and sometimes people will ask if anyone wants surplus food…that way it’s only people that actually want it.”


Lesley, Jess, Amy and Hannah reminded us about Olio. Olio is a new app that connects people with surplus food with those who want it.

Barter Bar

Katherine wrote “I set up a local “Barter Bar”. The rule is people can put anything up to be given away for free or swapped for someone else’s unwanted items. We don’t allow selling. People have given away or swapped home grown crops and home made drinks.”

Pay it forward

Lyn wrote “I love those revamped telephone boxes or similar to share local stuff. Round here it’s mostly bags outside your gate or a wheelbarrow with produce and a suggestion to leave a donation to charity. My neighbour spent ages on a sign and setting up her wheelbarrow for surplus tomato plants and they went immediately!”

Local eating project

Julieann wrote “I pass on to a local social eating project, they get Fareshare food that would have gone to landfill but don’t really get fresh food. We’re also lucky to have a not for profit cafe in town and they take fresh donations.”


Sheena suggested “Find out if any home ed groups would like to visit the allotment to collect some. I know a home ed mum near us invites groups to her allotment to do a bit of work and take home some produce and it’s a great learning experience for the kids.”

Apples for Eggs

Jen reminded us about Apples and Eggs. They host seasonal events in locations across the UK where people get together and exchange their produce.


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Rachelle Strauss

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