Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

How good things grow from Port Kembla’s crop swap

Every third Saturday, from 10-10:45am, locals gather on the lawns of Port Kembla Community Centre to swap homegrown produce, plants, preserves, recipes and ideas.

“It enables people to acquire a diversity of fresh produce, grown locally without the need for money or shopping at supermarkets,” said Port Kembla crop swap co-facilitator Jess Whittaker.

“We share ideas and stories about our produce before we start, so people know where things have been lovingly grown or prepared and by who.”

“The crop swap is exciting because it’s radical. It cuts out supermarkets by motivating the community to produce their own food and then redistribute it amongst themselves without money,” Jess said.

“The community centre is owned by Wollongong City Council but operated by Our Community Project, who let us use the tables and lawn area,” Jess said.

“We all come together and make new connections and share ideas, there’s something really magic about that.”

For Jess – who is running as the Greens candidate for Ward 1 and Lord Mayor in September's local government elections  – a crop swap is just the start. She has more green ideas for Wollongong.  

“Like supporting people in affordable homes to more environment-friendly modes of transport. I’m really passionate about active transport because I believe bikes are the answer to so many of our modern problems, from poor health, pollution, mental health and solving traffic problems," Jess said.

“We waste far too much money on building new roads while ignoring other solutions, we need to make it safe and easy for people to move about our whole city which is going to take a really progressive council to make it happen!”

“We think crop swaps will grow as people are feeling the need to connect with the community and seeking viable options for diversifying their food supply outside of the supermarket duopoly,” Jess said.


Story by Oguzhan Dincsoy in The Illawarra Flame, 4 April 2024.