Want to eat well and pay nothing? Join York’s swap shop

25 Sep 2014 @ 9.19 pm
| Food & drink

Fresh and tasty food is only a barter away. John Cossham explains all

Apples For Eggs autumn food swap

  Bistro Guy Café Bar, 40 Gillygate, York
  Sunday, September 28, 5pm-7pm

I’ve long been interested in local currencies, as I see them as connected to the green agenda of keeping it local and enhancing communities.

More than 20 years ago I joined the York Local Exchange Trading System, which by use of the imaginary currency Yorkys, enabled the few hundred members to exchange goods and services.

YorkLETS is still going but it never took off in the way I’d hoped it would, running parallel with Sterling but keeping the money circulating round York, rather than losing it to a supermarket head-office somewhere else.

In 2012, a new exchange event was brought to York by Vicky Swift and Sue Jewitt. Apples For Eggs is a “straight barter” scheme, focusing on garden and kitchen produce.

Fresh and tasty: some of the produce at a previous York Apples For Eggs event

In York, the events happen just three or four times a year, and they don’t last very long!

People register through Eventbrite and then turn up to the venue, currently Bistro Guy on Gillygate, a lovely little café with a back garden with space for perhaps 20 tables.

I am known as “the dried fruit man” by the assorted children who come along with their parents. I make a variety of dried fruit on my woodstove, and bring along jam jars of apple rings, pear slices, dried banana, even kiwi and melon.

Sometimes I’ll do a selection of mixed dried fruit, which will include some unusual products like slices of persimmon, dried pear soaked in lemon juice and re-dried, and fruit leather, such as blackberry and apple.

I have a “try before you barter” saucer, with cut up samples – children love these! Other attendees bring hommous and chutney, bread and buns, flapjack and cheese straws.

Depending on the time of year, there’s potatoes, salads, courgettes, rhubarb, green beans and almost anything you can imagine that can grow in a York garden.

How does it work?

Some of the produce of ‘dried fruit man’ John

Each stallholder is given a sheaf of Apples For Eggs swap cards, one for each type of product they’ve brought along. They write their name on the top and a description of that product, maybe with a list of ingredients or how it’s used.

Under this is a space for people to write what they would be willing to swap for it. So, after a bit of browsing and writing on other peoples’ cards, the bartering starts.

I had three people write on my “dried apple rings” card, one offering six eggs, one offering a bunch of freshly cut Nero cabbage, and another some chilli jam.

The good thing is you don’t have to say yes to every swap offered. I said yes to the eggs and cabbage, but I don’t like chilli (or jam, for that matter!) so I declined that swap.

I had put my dried fruit down on several people’s cards. Someone else got the sourdough loaf, but I did go home with three different jars of chutney, as well as the eggs, cabbage and a few other goodies.

Apples For Eggs is a very satisfying and fun activity. I always feel as if I’ve got a good deal, probably because I find making my dried fruit quite easy and not stressful. And I don’t make chutney or have chickens to give me eggs…

I love the creativity and talent of the other participants, I love getting local and in-season veggies, and the fact I never quite know what I’m going to go home with.

I’d recommend Apples For Eggs to anyone who enjoys cooking or growing food, and trying what others have. See you at a future event!