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Opinion

‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers

By Katelan Cunningham · January 21, 2016

After a trip to southern Italy, Ben Fletcher had a taste of fresh, local, pesticide-free produce that he didn’t know existed. There was no turning back. When he got home to Sydney, Australia, the UX designer started growing fruits and vegetables in his own backyard to get the flavor he was looking for, and hopefully adopt some of the pride he saw in the Italian growers. 

Even in his urban environment, he found a whole community of people growing their own produce and he started a small, trade-based network called Swap Your Crop to promote urban farming, local produce, community empowerment, and less food waste. A lot of big goals with one simple idea — trading homegrown food. 

 ‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers
 ‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers

Swap Your Crop started with just people Ben knew, and it's grown steadily to involve more people in the community. Between work and a new baby, he and his wife Catherine are spreading the word about Swap Your Crop locally, while making plans to go global. 

As a member of the Swap Your Crop Facebook group, you post photos of your harvest and offer it up for trade. Spinach for eggs, chilis for mint — you name it. You can ask for growing tips, request an item you’re looking for, or you can just show off a giant tomato. 

“There’s something obsessive and addictive about doing this, getting back to basics out in the fresh air surrounded by the sun, earth and rain. Then to harvest it, cook it and share it with friends and family was really cool.”

 ‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers
 ‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers

To brand Swap Your Crop, Ben commissioned three hand letterers and decided on Khairul Fikri. The result is a distressed logo that forgoes hard lines and crisp edges for a more homegrown look that’s bold and authentic. It also looks great on grocery bags.

“My dream is that Swap your Crop will help facilitate the enhancement of community spirit and love for growing organic homegrown food throughout the world.”

Right now, Swap Your Crop lives within the Sydney-based Facebook group, but when they reach 10,000 members, Ben and Catherine plan to spread their roots to a global network with an app and a website. 

 ‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers
 ‘Swap Your Crop’ is Growing a Trade-Based Network for Urban Farmers

Swap Your Crop online will be home to recipes, videos, community tips, and geolocation filtering so you can be part of a network of urban farmers anywhere in the world. Ben is personally building the app and website to ensure that the seamless community experience continues offline. For the aesthetic, he said “I want the earthy, warm, hand-generated style of design to form the branding.”

“The more members we have, the easier it is for people to swap within their local area, reinforcing the slow food movement.”

With the environmental impact of mass food production becoming more severe and visits to the weekly farmers market getting more popular, it seems that Swap Your Crop will quickly grow beyond Sydney and into a community of foodies and backyard growers that spans the globe.

You can follow Swap Your Crop's growth on their Instagram.

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