The Underground Trading Network: Summer Exchange

I’ve been enviously reading about food swaps for awhile now and was thinking about trying to get one started around here. I wasn’t sure if I knew enough people around here yet though, so I kept searching the official food swap network to find one locally.

I found groups in San Francisco, Oakland and other parts of the South Bay, but surprisingly, I wasn’t finding one here.

And then a friend alerted me to a group of folks attempting to start their own swap locally, the Underground Trading Network. It’s not really just a food swap — it’s technically called a homemade swap, so some folks bring paintings and crafty items. A few people will even bring used books and movies; another brought a whole lot of brand-new wool socks.

I couldn’t make the first event, but I was excited to attend the one held this past weekend.

A small selection of all my recent preserving action.

I’ve been on a major canning kick lately, but ultimately I decided I’d bring several bottles of my homemade limoncello and a batch of my bottle cap magnets.

I was a bit nervous about my first food swap. I’ve heard that the ones held in my hometown can be a bit, well, cutthroat. I’ve heard they are well-organized and have gotten huge, but that the attendees are definitely assertive about what they do and don’t want.

However, this is Santa Cruz, not the east coast, and everything here is always a little bit more laid-back, to say the least. Officially the event started at 4 p.m. but we mingled for awhile before getting our swap on around 5:30 p.m. Our lovely hosts Jason and Lindsay provided some lovely homebrew beer and hard cider on tap for us to quench our thirst and lubricate our social skills.

Everyone was super-friendly, and Lindsay and Jason have an awesome backyard that is like a little urban jungle oasis tucked away from the noise of the boardwalk. 

I was stoked to find that my limoncello was a very popular item. I left with quite a haul.

A selection: tomatoes, dried mushrooms and homemade jam

Here’s what I got:

  • a jar of pickled onions
  • a bunch of homegrown oregano
  • boysenberry-sage jam
  • a 22-ounce bottle of hard cider
  • some homemade chocolates
  • a bag of dried, foraged black trumpet mushrooms
  • several heirloom tomatoes
  • a bag of mixed sprouts
  • a giant squash
  • a Patagonia shopping bag

I’m excited for the next one. I already have some infused liquors going as well as another batch of limoncello, this time with Meyer lemons. I have plenty of ideas for pickling and jamming too. 

Also, there was a ridiculously cute beagle puppy at the event. Major bonus points there.

Puppies make everything more fun.
This entry was posted in california, cheap eats, crafty, DIY, fun stuff, harvest, homegrown, homemade, santa cruz. Bookmark the permalink.

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