Bring samples!
Provide a list of ingredients on your packaging or swap sheet.
Always label food items with estimated expiration dates.
Know it’s OK to decline a swap offer.
Bring something you would want to take home.

What do people usually bring?
Food swaps are about sharing and celebrating handmade and homegrown foods of all kinds, from simple to gourmet. Make what you know, love, or desire to try. Let the season or your garden influence your choice. Make your famous recipe everyone always asks for. Or try your hand at something new.

While there is no standard of how healthy, creative, or delicious your food has to be, it does have to be homemade, homegrown or foraged by you.

Food: Anything that you’ve made or grown yourself. Think homemade bread loaves, empanadas, lavender infused vodka, duck eggs, marmalades and preserves, marshmallows, cookies, honey, relish, herb butters, salad dressings, canned peaches, hummus, bundled fresh herbs, sausages, limoncello, whole produce, homemade pasta, bags of pecans, pierogies, pies, infused oils, salts or sugars, sauces, fresh flowers, flourless peanut butter cookies, fresh picked basil, a sugarcane plant, potted fig tree, candied jalapeños, strawberry mint jam, marinated carrots, muesli…

Craft: Anything you’ve made yourself. Think: Un-paper towels, organic doggie treats, embroidered kitchen towels, jewelry, patchwork creations, knitted items, bath salts, soy candles, wreaths, body scrubs, massage oils, homemade mosquito repellent, bowl covers, room or linen spray, dryer balls, loofah, homemade laundry detergent, book paper rose, butterfly headband, candied jalapeños, homemade photo cards, hand-sewn car trash bag, watercolor paper sets, bookmarks…

Do I need fancy packaging?
No. It’s up to you how you want to present your items. But please, package your goods so they are safe to be handled and so it is clear how much you intend to swap (i.e., one jar of salsa, or one bag of a half-dozen mini muffins). Whenever possible, we strongly encourage the use of recyclable, reusable and earth-friendly packaging.

How many items should I bring – a bunch of one thing, or a few each of several?
We recommend that you bring at least 5 items but really, bring whatever amount you hope to return home with. Our swaps are item-for-item, so if you want to try 15 different things from the swap, show up with 15 items to trade. (Food items and craft items can be inter-swapped!) Of course, you can break this down into 5 each of 3 different items, or however you like.

How does the swapping part actually work?
The basic format consists of three parts: (1) Set up and fill out a swap sheet for each of your items; (2) Browse goods, sample offerings and visit with the swappers. Then, write your name and item to swap on the swap sheets of items you’d like to trade for. “Bidding” on an item does not commit you to swapping for it, nor does it guarantee a trade. It is just a starting point to connect interested swappers; (3) When announced, start swapping! Look at your swap sheet to see who’s interested in an exchange and seek them out… or seek out your top choices first!

I’m still a little unclear how the whole “bid” process works…
A “bid” is only a place to start when deciding who wants your stuff and who you might talk to first. As for the actual swapping, swappers will ideally have a look at their item’s swap sheet (which tells them who is interested and what they have to offer in exchange). The swapper will make their way over to the person they want to trade with and seal the deal. If a swapper doesn’t get as many offers as items they have to offer, then they can go around and just chat with people and see if they’re interested in trading. The order of offers on the sheet is arbitrary; you should go down the list according to what items you actually want, not who wrote their name down on your sheet first.

Does writing your name on something guarantee you’ll get it?
NO! Swap sheets are just a starting point for hashing out trades when the swap starts.

I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by turning them/their item down. How do I avoid making people uncomfortable?
It is emphasized that in no way should swappers feel obligated to accept someone’s offer (if they don’t actually want the item), nor should swappers get their feelings hurt if someone turns them down. Food is a very personal matter and a number of factors – like food allergies, personal preference, utility of the item in their kitchen or home – will influence someone’s decision to swap. Sure, you can always swap and give away the item, but only if you have extra items to work with, which will not be the case for people who only bring a few items.


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