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Host a DIY Food Swap

By Sarah Henry, "Host a DIY Food Swap," July/August 2011

Learn how to set up a food swap to trade your homemade jams, pickles and more with other cooks.

When Kate Payne posted on twitter that she had made too much marmalade, Megan Paska offered to trade her honey and eggs—and an idea was born. Soon after, 20 home-canners, gardeners and foragers showed up at Payne's 600-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, New York, for the first "BK Swappers" food swap to exchange homemade kombucha, basil-infused liqueur and the like.

That first swap spawned a growing movement. Payne's website (hipgirlshome.com/foodswaps) now lists more than 20 swaps that have popped up around the U.S., Canada and the U.K., with more sprouting as word spreads. The swaps are the latest offshoot of the DIY trend, bringing together canners and picklers and giving them a chance to barter everything from cherry preserves and basil starts to sauerkraut and homemade Sriracha. Each swap has its own feel. At one in Minneapolis, allergy-free foods rule (labels identify items as gluten- or nut-free), while one in Portland, Oregon, includes handcrafted body products.

Most of these exchanges take place in private homes and operate like a silent auction, where swappers jot down their "offers." This gives participants an idea of who wants their goods and what they'd get in exchange. Everyone can then decide whom to trade with.

Have food to trade? Payne's #1 piece of advice: Don't try to micromanage the event. The fact that you don't know what people will bring is part of what makes it fun.

Here is Kate Payne's step-by-step guide to starting your own food swap with friends »



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