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Trade site turns social hub

SELF-isolation under Covid-19 restrictions may be an inconvenience, but around 250 locals have made it an opportunity to socialise safely – online.

Trade and bartering may be an old concept and is certainly not new to social media, but it has taken on a whole new life in the district with the creation of the Facebook page, Casterton Produce Swap.

Opened by creator Jessica Cameron (pictured), who “lost all of my incomes” with the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions, the page registered 244 members in just over a week and had a whole market garden of goods – and conversation - circulating around the district. 

“People certainly have more time on their hands, but I think they’re also a little bit more aware of what’s happening with the economy, perhaps more aware of how wasteful we can be and of trying to recycle and re-use materials to help themselves and others to save a bit of money,” Ms Cameron said.

“It’s not cheap, buying everything from shops at the moment, that’s just the way it is and when we completely lost all of our incomes in our house, there was so much fruit on our trees, we suddenly realised it would be silly not to use it and share it with others who were in the same situation.”

She said from a simple ‘swap’ site, the page had taken on a life of its own, becoming a community gathering point, easing some of the ‘hum-drum’ caused by Covid-19 isolation.

“People have been really positive,” Ms Cameron said.

“It’s gone from the traditional ‘buy/swap’ sites we see on Facebook, to a community noticeboard.

“People are posting photos, comments, suggestions and ideas, really getting involved.

“And they are swapping everything … recipes, fresh produce, poultry … it’s a real paddock-to-plate, something that people in the cities pay a lot of money for.

“The way we are doing it makes it super affordable for everyone to get what they need and move things to someone who needs it.

“It’s a great resource for people who are finding it tough at the moment and for me – and others – it has stopped me feeling so isolated, when normally you would see and talk to dozens of people each day.

“We’re having this great social contact, safely.”

She said the page was also a great wake-up call – for herself and others – on how wasteful we can be, as a society.

“We’re all guilty of being incredibly wasteful … we throw out so many things that can be passed on and used by others,” she said.

“Not everyone on this page is trading … some are just giving away excess of something they have, where they would have thrown it out before.

“Swapping or trading is a great skill to have; we put a monetary value on everything but the dollar price doesn’t always reflect an item’s worth, to someone who needs it.”

Look up Casterton Produce Swap on Facebook.

Some safe trade tips:

- Arrange ‘contactless’ pick-up and drop-off – either deliver to or pick up from a driveway, front veranda, etc, where no one else is present;

- Take sanitiser with you, if collecting

- Try to take your own containers/bags to collect items and sanitise hands after filling your containers

- At home, wash all items, including fruit, veg and containers/bags you used for collection, as well as surfaces used in process.

- Wash your hands!

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