Neighbors Share Produce at Lorin Station Crop Swap

By Tony Wilkinson Back in 1876, the Lorin Train Station, located at what is now the intersection of Adeline Avenue and Alcatraz Street, connected Berkeley with Emeryville and Oakland. Today, the Lorin Station site is a new kind of community connection. The Crop Swap at the Lorin Station, serving South Berkeley and North Oakland neighborhoods, began in August, designed to bring back to life the old tradition of sharing home grown food. For one hour on Sunday, May 20, the northeast corner of Alcatraz  and Adeline came alive with the spirit of community. Neighbors came together to share and swap the bounty of their gardens to the rhythm of the beat of a band, The Crane and the Crow (www.facebook.com/thecraneandthecrow). Neighbors gathered to trade lemons for lettuces, beets for beans. No offering was too small or too large. One elderly man brought a bag of lemons from his tree, which he says, “just won’t quit making lemons.” He proudly took home two tomato starts for his grandson to plant. Victory Lee,  one of the initiators of the Lorin Crop Swap, along with Transition Berkeley, is enthusiastic about the crop swap’s success. “It is absolutely important that neighbors come together to share and receive not only the wonderful backyard produce; but also the spirit of community,” she said. The crop swap is a unique place, Lee said, because it serves two cities, allows neighbors to  share and showcase their skills for one hour and leads to making lasting connections. “I imagine there was something like this in the 1900s when Lorin Station was a transit station, where people met going to and from Berkeley. Best of all, it’s a place to smile,” she said. The Lorin Station Crop Swap, along with a sister crop swap in Ohlone Greenway, is presented by the Victory Garden Foundation and Transition Berkeley. The general feeling of the day was that growing food at home is rewarding but that sharing with neighbors and building community is even more fun and rewarding. The event was so successful that the Crop Swap will be held at the same place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday. “If you do not have produce to swap, please come out anyway and engage in inspiring conversation while meeting new and old neighbors,” said Lee. “Pick out something to take home. Come out and enjoy an hour of fun and music.”
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