The 2014 season is almost here! Why not JOIN US? New members always welcome!

Do you live in the Hamilton area and grow some of your own food?

Would you be interested in exchanging your surplus food with other local backyard vegetable gardeners – all for FREE? Please read on to find out how!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What is the West Hamilton Produce Cooperative?

It’s a FREE, twice-a-month exchange of the surplus FRUITS, VEGETABLES, HERBS and FLOWERS we grow in our yards with other local backyard vegetable gardeners.

It's a community in which we come together to freely give and receive our surplus garden bounty. In return for contributing the extra produce we have grown that we won't use ourselves, we will be blessed with the delights of other people's gardens.

By joining together in this way, we prevent food from being wasted and we all get to enjoy a wide variety of fresh, local produce for FREE.

This model has been used with wonderful success in the southern United States. Hynden Walch started the Hillside Produce Cooperative in North East Los Angeles a couple of years ago. From her first exchange with 5 members, the cooperative has exploded to include 250 members and 6 chapters. She says this about a typical exchange:
"It's astonishing just how much food we see in our bags each month, not to mention the variety. The contents of our bags looks like we just dropped about $65 at a really great farmers' market. But instead all the food is FREE."
I believe this model can be equally successful here in our Hamilton community, despite our shorter growing season (the Hillside cooperative runs all year long).

 Bags of goodies awaiting pickup post exchange

 So, how does this work, exactly?

To join the group, send an email to:

You'll receive an email about the next exchange date on the MONDAY prior to the exchange.

Exchanges will take place TWO SATURDAYS A MONTH (usually the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month) from approximately mid-June to mid-October (the exact start and end dates will depend on how our gardens are faring at the beginning and end of the season).

If you're planning to participate in that week's exchange, REPLY to the email by the THURSDAY before the exchange prior to 8 PM letting me know what FRUITS, VEGETABLES, HERBS and FLOWERS you'll have to contribute.

If you don't have anything ready to harvest, you can still participate by volunteering to help sort and bag the contributions for that week. Please let me know ASAP if you're interested in volunteering on a given week. I may or may not be able to accommodate your request depending on how many people want to volunteer and the volume of produce we'll be sorting that week).

On the exchange day, drop off your LABELLED harvest by NOON, along with a reusable cloth bag (location is near McMaster University and will be emailed to all participants).

The contributions will be distributed amongst all the bags and your bag of uber-fantastic fresh, local produce will be available to pick up between 3 AND 5 PM that day.

That's all there is to it, so what are you waiting for? Please join us today and start giving and receiving fabulous fresh local produce for FREE.

(A note for 2014: I will be continuing with more flexible drop off/pickup times this season to make it easier for more people to participate. Please see the updated FAQs for more details.)

Questions? Please read the FAQ before contacting me - thanks :)