Guest Author - Wynde Baroli
Maybe you live in an apartment or townhouse with just a wee balcony good enough for a comfortable lounge chair and a pint-sized barbeque. Perhaps you want to grow your own herbs but it seems only rosemary and sweet basil will work in the pots you carefully tend not to mention the issue of enough space. Don’t fret- instead start an herb-bartering group. Here are a few suggestions that will help you form a group so that everyone involved will have access to fresh herbs for cooking, making their own medicinal teas and tinctures, and even for aromatherapy grown locally.
Most important is to establish a group of three or more individuals interested in using fresh herbs. You might consider putting together a flyer and posting it in a common area, taking out a free ad in a weekly paper, or asking a local garden center if you could put up a small poster requesting people to contact you about fresh herb bartering. Most areas also have gardening clubs that you might be able to visit and present to their members your idea for an herb-bartering group.
Starting groups usually require a leader to organize things until it is going strong. Be prepared with a handout of exactly what would be expected, how much time is involved-remember unless you are retired everyone leads busy live so keep it simple. Make a calendar so that everyone can write on it to schedule his or her own time available. Have a master sheet ready for phone numbers, email addresses, and keep it in a folder with written directions to everyone’s house if the meetings for bartering are going to rotate through the members homes. Consider you can also meet at a park, a local library, or common area so that no one feels that in addition to their busy lives they are forced to host a meeting. Be organized, have fun, and share lots of information!
Once membership is established, have all the members offer a list of their top five herbs. You may find duplicates on the list encourage everyone to consider unusual plants on their lists in addition to the ones everyone knows. Add up the variety and then put them all in a hat-everyone choosing two or three papers. In the beginning, members should only try to grow three to four kinds of herbs so that no one is overwhelmed –allow the group to evolve as participation increases. Depending on the size of the gardens take into consideration how much each member is able to grow – some with lots of space may grow enough for every member of the group while others may only have three pots on the balcony.
With the advent of email, it will be easy for the members to list what they have ready to trade and the rest is up to you. With a small group, there should be enough to share with everyone because the key here is to use them fresh which means you may not require large amounts! Put together a newsletter you will find a link to great free software for making newsletters at the bottom of the article. At some point, you may wish to collect dues to create your own library or purchase new plants. Some members may just want to trade what they grow; others may find growing herbs could lead to a new business enterprise or the group may have enough to sell extra at a farmers market or to other neighbors. The only limits are imagination and interest.
Look for Creating a Small Balcony Herb Garden coming soon in our feature articles.
This article will list easy to grow herbs for pots, how to prepare the soil, water requirements, and much more.
As your club grows you will find you have extra plants to trade and seeds to share and more importantly, you have gone green by choosing locally grown!
The Author of this article has created many garden bartering groups and for a small fee would be happy to send an envelope with more details, templates for organizing the group, a list of successful easy –to-grow- herbs, and five packets of organic herb seed to get the club started. Just email for details.
Giardino per vita!