From little things, great things grow.

About two years ago, a small group of keen gardeners got together to swap their excess produce.

The Stratford Crop Swap group meets at the Stratford A&P Showgrounds on Flint Road every third Saturday to swap a wide variety of garden-related items.

"If it's related to gardening in some way, bring it and swap it," says Dorothy Oakes, who with Lorraine Kelsen and Catherine Groenestein organises the group.

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This means a range of items from eggs and seeds to flowers, plants, fruit, compost and even gardening books and magazines turn up at the monthly event.

"Everyone has a look around, whatever they bring, they are willing to leave on the table, and in exchange they can take other items," says Dorothy.

A range of fruits, vegetables, and other gardening related items are available to be swapped.
A range of fruits, vegetables, and other gardening related items are available to be swapped.

Anything left over is then either donated to the Stratford Community Food Bank in the case of produce, put aside for next time if it is non-perishable, or one of the organisers may take seeds etc home to plant and then return as grown plants later on.

"Nothing goes to waste," says Dorothy, and she means it. Not even the accidental profit from the group has been wasted.

To cover the cost of the use of the space, the group have always asked for a gold coin donation as a koha from all participants, says Dorothy, and as the popularity of the group grew, so did their finances.

"We had a bit of money set aside, more than we needed for the hire of the space, so we had a talk about what to do with it."

After reading about the youngsters at Gr8 Kidz in a Stratford Press article wanting to start a vegetable garden at the centre, the group felt it was something they could support.

They decided to purchase fruit trees for both Gr8Kidz and Pembroke School as a way to give back to the community, and to encourage a new generation of keen gardeners.

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At Saturday's regular crop swap meeting, the group handed over the trees. Both groups were given a lemon tree, a grape vine and an apple tree.

Teacher Robin Mischeski was there to receive the trees on behalf of Gr8Kidz and said she and the team at Gr8Kidz were thrilled and very grateful for the donation.

Crop Swap Stratford: Find them on Facebook - www.facebook.com/Crop-swap-stratford. The group meets at the Old McDonald Farm Barn at the A&P Showgrounds on Flint Road every third Saturday of the month. 10am start, crop swap at 10.30.