Soil Networking

An online swap meet for amateur farmers

Call it grassroots organizing: Group gardening has gone viral, thanks to Veggie Trader, an online marketplace that works like a mash-up of eBay, Craigslist and your local farmers' market.

This newly minted site lets you buy, sell and trade homegrown produce with other backyard farmers in your area. Have a surfeit of tomatoes but no lemons or wax beans? Register for a free account, post a listing for your surplus goods and stipulate what you want in return–then wait for the offers to roll in. If you have nothing to swap, post your wish list in the "wanted" section or search listings within your zip code.

Ads are broken down into categories (fruits, herbs, nuts, vegetables) for easy searching, but you can also do a general text search to refine results. To close the deal, simply arrange a swap spot. It's a quick and efficient way to get fresh, local food or make a buck from excess edibles that would otherwise go to waste.

The pickings are currently slim, but with the summer harvest just around the corner, increased and more widespread participation is imminent. After all, when it comes to growing food, community is the new commodity.