How to Organize a Food Swap

June 26, 2017

Steps for Organizing a Food Swap

Check for Existing Food Swaps

First, check if there are backyard food exchanges already happening in your area.

Places to check are 

  • Facebook
  • Meetup
  • Next-door
  • Local free papers or other local bulletin boards

If none exist, start your own.

Food Swap

Create a Team or Go It Alone

Before deciding if you want to create a team or not, determine how much time you can devote to organizing a swap.

Go alone, or create an organizing team? Both have benefits and drawbacks. If you start a food swap alone, you have to do all the work involved, but you are also the sole decision maker. You can create the swap around your time schedule and availability.

A team can share the task of making a swap successful, but it can take much time to get the team to pull in the same direction. If you have already a group which works well together, great! You are set!

But sometimes it is easier to get an event started alone and allow a team to build organically. People who show up every time and become invested in the concept of the swap are often more than willing to step up and take over some of the tasks.

Eventually, a strong group will form which becomes the organizing team.

Food Swap

The Details

Set a time and date that works for you. Allow one hour to an hour and a half for the swap.

Find a public place for the swap. Parks often are a good choice. Other possible locations are  

  • Churches
  • community centers
  • libraries
  • schools
  • parking lots of businesses or office buildings – if there is lots of room or they are closed (with permission of course)
  • indoor malls (for very hot or very cold climates)

Make sure that your location

  • is easy to find
  • offers adequate parking options
  • has space for tables and such
  • provides some shade 
  • has a restroom somewhere close by

Food swap

Promoting the Food Swap

Connect with garden clubs, food justice groups, homesteading and prepping groups or other organizations that might be interested in this activity. Talk to your neighbors and friends about it.

Create a short write-up about the food swap or use our sample, below.

Start advertising your swap via social media, church bulletins, or other publications.

Start a Facebook group and create a Facebook event. Utilize other free social media platforms such as Next-Door.

Arrive early on the day of the swap.

Bring a sign, tables, table cloth, chairs, extra bags, and a notebook for sign-in of participants.

If you have, bring lots of your own produce and other swap items.

Explain to newcomers the rules of your swap. i.e. no exchange of money, you don’t have to accept offers, etc.

Don’t expect more than a few people the first time.

Have fun!


Sample Invite


Gather your goods, harvest your crops and share or trade your abundance with the community. Bring what you can OR make something special.

Bring your homemade or homegrown items for a barter style swap! Meet fellow homesteaders,  makers, gardeners, farmers and local like- minded people. Bring a friend and/or make new friends.

Some ideas for trades are: fruits, veggies, seeds, jams, jellies, kombucha, kefir, eggs, seedlings, flowers, starters (bread), yogurt, soaps, lip balms, fish, meats, fermented veggies, baked treats, cheeses you make, pestos, handcrafted or homemade organic body or hair products, plant starters, honey, homemade household cleaners, planters and pots.

Fish you grow or catch and meat you raise or hunt.

In short, anything you make or grow and want to share with others.

Also bring a table, blankets or a cart to display your items.

Swaps are super fun! So come out and play with us!!!

Remember! BARTER only – no exchange of money!!!


Feel free to use the invite as is or adjust to your needs. No credit necessary, but you can mention us if you want.

Our Food Swap in the News

At our last swap, I did a Facebook live video just showing people how much fun a swap can be.

The next day, I was contacted by a reporter who writes for the San Diego Reader. Of course, he contacted others active in the food swap community as well, but we were pleased with the article.

San Diego Reader Article

Pictures by Benjamin Cossel

Videos by Marianne West

Listen to our episode on Food Swaps


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