Fresh Out of the Garden

A bouquet of edible flowers and greens shared at the Topanga Produce Exchange. Photo by Cammie Henderson Hardouin

The Topanga Produce Exchange is a free, monthly, neighborhood exchange of non-GMO organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers that grow in our yards. The next exchanges will be March 4,. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., at the Children’s Organic Garden.

The Exchange started in June 2014 when a small group gathered at the Community Center’s Children’s Organic Garden for the first exchange. Carolyn Day provided a tour, shared composting and edible gardening tips and water-wise tricks. Gabrielle Lamarind brought strawberries for snacking; Tali Whalley brought pumpkins so big that Judith Fine-Sarchielli helped her cut portions for exchanging. Carolyn and Donald Day brought giant squashes while sons Simon and Tristan collected insects in the cool shade of the Children’s Garden. Cammie Hardouin shared eggs, echeverrias, eggplants, Kung Pao chili peppers and tomatillo seeds. Donald and Miwa Morishita used the meeting to clear a space for the upcoming Children’s Garden project. 

From that experience, Cammie Hardouin decided to create the Topanga Produce Exchange. When she and her neighbor, Jesse Cole, had too many eggplants and tomatoes, she searched the internet for other Topanga gardeners to swap with, hoping for citrus or avocados.

The closest thing that turned up was a gardening cooperative in northeast Los Angeles, where she found Hillside Produce Cooperative creator, Hynden Walch, who encourages gardeners to start their own neighborhood produce exchange and to copy her so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

“In a collective we all get to enjoy some of what everyone grows in exchange for contributing what we don’t want or won’t use ourselves,” says Walch. “No food is wasted and we all get a variety of fresh local produce for free.”  

“Hynden’s idea is inspiring and she provided a model for action that I ran with,” says Hardouin. “A little organization action on my part has been met with encouragement from the Topanga community. So far, we have all organic, GMO-free gardeners interested,” she says. “We have been monthly ever since. We take a break from November to January when our gardens are at rest,

The next exchange is March 4, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Children’s Organic Garden. 


For more information or to join: (323) 286-8378;


By Carolyn Day


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