Sandra grows friendships in home produce swap group
- 13 July 2022 11:26AM
Joining a local swap group for home produce has provided many benefits for Toowoomba social housing tenant, Sandra.
“The best thing about the group is that it cuts my grocery bill down and I’ve made loads of friends in the group,” she said.
“I joined the group 3 or 4 years ago after being told about the group on Facebook.
“I can swap eggs and pot plant containers for home-made soap or a home-made cake and there’s no money involved, it’s great.”
Sandra said that the appeal of the group is that it brings together people of different ages, abilities, and interests.
“We learn new skills from each other, and we ask for, and offer advice on different topics like gardening, sewing or cooking,” she said.
“We have a real mix of people in the group - members who are elderly, and some that come along with their kids.
“We meet on the first Saturday of the month at a community centre and it doesn’t matter if you can’t make it every time, you just come along when you can.”
Sandra said the group now had about 60 members and has provided her with a strong connection to her community.
“You can be a bit down in the dumps but going to the swap group really cheers you up.
“During COVID-19, the group continued the swaps but in a different way. We’d use Facebook to stay in touch and then swap through our letterboxes.
“We didn’t feel isolated or alone because we were still able to connect with each other.”
Sandra’s membership in the group has led to some great friendships, including Alan, another social housing tenant.
“Alan lives nearby, so if I’m passing by and he is out in his garden, I stop and have a chat with him.”
“He has been in the group a long time and he knows a lot about gardening. His plants are great!
“I go to his place to see what he has in his garden and ask him what some plants are called and then I go to get some.”
Sandra’s swap group friends have also benefitted her neighbours.
“One of my neighbours wasn’t well and didn’t have much food, so I told the group and they coordinated a big basket of fruit and veggies to help my neighbour out,” she said.
“Good neighbours help each other, and we all get on pretty well in the complex,” said Sandra.
“I collect mail for a neighbour when she is away and take the bins out for some neighbours who can’t.
“I also give my neighbours some of the veggies I grow too,” she said.
As well as being a good neighbour, Sandra raises money for charity.
“I have a plant stall out the front and sell plants to raise money for cancer and fibromyalgia charities.
“My neighbours offer flowers and plants sometimes to help raise money too,” said Sandra.
For Sandra, the best thing about her community is the people.
“Toowoomba is full of lovely people, it’s a really nice community.”