In a yard not too far from where I now sit, a pomegranate tree is heavy with fruit. When we walked the dogs by it, I couldn’t help buy wonder when, if ever, the owners were going to harvest their bounty. Then it occurred to me that they might not even know what the heck those pretty red things are. Or they might not care, except when they fall and begin to rot and sully their landscaping.
If I were braver, I’d have knocked on the door and ask for some. But I have an ingrained aversion to asking for free stuff, and we just kept walking. It’s something I should probably get over. I should stand on that porch, offer to strip that tree clean, and leave behind a big bag of that jewel-like fruit as a thank-you. But you never know what you’re going to get when you knock on a stranger’s door–and I knock on strangers’ doors all week long for work.
It’s a what-if and I-should-have scenario that replays in my head all summer long in this neighborhood. There are neglected apricots and peaches and figs I see over fences, herbs grown wild in “kitchen gardens” that will never find their way into any pot.
Only in America will we landscape with food, and sweep it into the dustbin after it’s stopped being aesthetically pleasing.
But maybe I’m being too judgmental. Maybe these folks are sick sick sick of delicious pomegranates. Maybe they’re an older couple; she uses a walker and he can’t possibly climb a stepladder anymore. Maybe they’ve heard you can eat those beautiful fruits, but don’t really know what to do with ‘em. Maybe they just need a place to connect with neighbors who can help them out.
Enter Veggie Trader. Still in its infancy, Veggie Trader envisions becoming a space where folks can share the respective bounty of their yards and gardens, trading with other growers or selling to those without a fertile patch of ground to call their own.
It’s the ultimate in local, that buzzword du jour, and is even a little subversive in its primarily barter-based economy. I like that–subversion can be at its most effective when it becomes commonplace, everyday. Policy change still needs to happen, but this is something you can do right now, without waiting for the creaky wheels of bureaucracy to turn.
Our weekly arts & entertainment paper here in town spoke with the founders, Rob Anderson and Tam Crawford, who say they started Veggie Trader after having too many of those moments I described above, seeing local food go to waste. Right now, they say, the website is a labor of love, self-funded and -maintained.
Veggie Trader is still small, but has such potential I get goosebumps thinking about it. I just set up my account (it’s quick and free), and I invite you to join me. Let’s help them grow, shall we?
This post is part of today’s Fight Back Fridays. Go see what everyone else is writing about!