Food swap organizer Wendy Weiner (right) samples some of April Lippet-Faczak’s hand-milled oats, which were served with toppings such as molasses, chopped walnuts and fresh bananas. Below, Lois Blake’s chimichurri. (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)


There’s a quiet thrill in making something from scratch, a reassuring sense of independence that comes from throwing together homegrown ingredients to produce something tastier and cheaper than store-bought items.

This is one of the underpinnings of food swapping, which has now made its way to Monmouth County.

Wendy Weiner of Little Silver was first introduced to the concept of swapping when she read an article in the summer 2012 issue of Edible Jersey magazine. A group known as the South Jersey Swappers learned it from a group in Brooklyn, and the trail apparently leads all the way to England.

“As soon as I read it, I said, ‘we totally have to do this,’ ” said Weiner.

Swapping is an easy way to foster sustainability and make participants more “dependent on community neighbors rather than the government,” she said.

At swaps, there is no exchange of money at all – only barter. Participants must be willing to swap one-for-one.

“But you do have the right of refusal,” said Weiner. “If you think your healing salve that you slaved over is worth more than a jar of homemade jam, you can say no.”

“The point is to come together as a community and learn from each other,” Weiner explained. “It’s another opportunity to form relationships.”

Last Thursday evening was the first swap for the group known as the Greater Red Bank Transition Mullers, created on, and others who heard of the event through social media and word of mouth. The theme of the night was food, herbs, and cleansers at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House in Lincroft.

Items ran the gamut from kale chips crusted with minced cashews, jalapeno, and lemon juice (Tim Zebo of Red Bank); chimichurri, an Argentine dip made with parsley, garlic, and crushed red pepper (Lois Blake of Colts Neck); and kumbucha scoby, a fermented tea drink with a vinegar taste (Mieshel Bennet of East Brunswick). After a sampling of swap foods, the event culminated in a potluck dinner.

Weiner, who has a background in herbalism and is known as the Front Yard Farmer, brought along her own granola, healing herbal salve, and a lavender body cream that she has been making for years. She was also sampling her gomasio, a seasoning made from sesame seeds, kelp, salt, and garlic powder.

As for future swap events, “We’ll see how it goes, but I’d like to see it happen seasonally,” said Weiner. “We could maybe do tools, clothing, crafts like you’d see at a garage sale. A holiday swap would be really cool.”

Mainly though, she said swapping is just “a great excuse for coming together to play and build the community.”