(Image: Bethany Rydmark)
1. Share the work: Find a friend or two that will share planning and hosting duties. Spread the word via Facebook (make a page), Twitter (use a unique Twitter hashtag, #yourcityfoodswap), or via a blog so attendees can connect before and after your events. You can also post flyers in food-lovers’ hangouts and alert local food bloggers and organizations.
2. Establish guidelines: Keep things simple by requiring swap items to be homemade, homegrown, or foraged. Ask attendees to RSVP via email, Facebook, or a registration service like Eventbrite so you can keep track of how many people are coming.
3. Pick a venue: You might hold a swap at your house, a local business, a park, or anywhere that will offer a private space and big tables (or ample counter space). Snacks at the event are potluck-style and drinks are easiest set up as BYOB.
4. Assemble supplies: Make swap item sheets before the event. Include: What (is the item to be swapped), Who (you are), Notes (anything you want to say about your item), and Offers listed by Name/Item (to be filled in by people who want to trade with you and what they’ll offer in exchange). Visit the Resources page to download a sample sheet. Nametags are a handy, if not essential, way for attendees to find the swappers who wrote on their swap sheets.
4. Get cooking: Make (or gather) stuff that’s edible and swappable, e.g., small loaves of bread, jars of preserves, eggs from your backyard chickens, homegrown peppers, liqueurs and cordials, handmade sausage, etc. There’s no limit to how many items swappers can bring. Most swappers will trade their items 1-for-1, which means that for every item a swapper brings, they will take home one item of someone else’s.
5. Hold the event: Set a time when the actual swapping will take place within the context of the party. Our parties generally last for 2 hours with the swap starting during the second hour. This gives guests time to arrive, assess the tables, and write their names down on others’ sheets before being thrown into the pit of chatty swappers all vying for delicious goods.