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Swap fresh food from garden with neighbors and friends

I call it neighborly love – and the old adage give and you shall receive rings true in my life when it comes to food.

For me, food is about sharing an experience with those you care about and why not share your fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs with neighbors. You will reap the benefits in many ways.

These fresh picked strawberries from my neighbor Tony’s garden are best when simply prepared. Try them with balsamic vinegar or thinly sliced mint.

There’s usually a neighbor within a couple blocks of your apartment, condo or house who you’ve gotten to know or need to get to know now. People love to talk about their gardens – including me. Trade food stories and exchange fresh garden items. If you have a bumper crop of sugar snap peas, deliver them to your friends and neighbors. Like me, you’ll soon find fresh veggies like zucchini sitting on your porch.

Tony, my neighbor, is surrounded by swiss chard, peas, potatoes. strawberries and beets. He’s always willing to share food from his verdant garden.

I’ve learned so much about gardening from my neighbor Tony. In many talks over beers, I’ve gotten tips on planting my garden. Whether it’s irrigation, compost or protection from critters, Tony has shared helpful stories with me. His garden is amazing and I, for some reason, have earned a pass to enter it at any time and pillage.

You can’t possibly find the time or space to grow everything you’d like to in your garden or in pots. So find fellow food growers in your neighborhood and see if food can be shared. For example, I have one neighbor who graciously gave me fresh greens for a salad and when my potatoes are grown I’ll drop some off for her. And don’t just think of food. I’ve given fresh herbs to a friend and, in exchange, received fresh-cut flowers from her yard. Another reward is discovering new recipes by asking how your friends prepared the food. If you are feeling ambitious, form a neighborhood cooperative or exchange that’s more organized.

Carrots literally pulled from the ground like these are so sweet and earthy. Cook them with thyme and a touch of butter, but that’s only if you don’t eat them raw first.

I’ll be honest with you I’m not good at growing corn. This is an embarrassing fact, since I grew up in Iowa. It could be my soil, or that my garden doesn’t sit in a hot, sunny spot or that I’m too far from my original roots. But I’m sure my neighbor Tony will have corn this summer and yes I will pillage. And yes he will receive an ample supply of my fresh, sweet raspberries. I’d love to hear your food swapping stories and ideas.