Have you ever wished you could shop – without money? Arrive with your own produce and leave with a tantalising selection of other peoples’?

Apples for Eggs is a national Food Swap movement, started by Vicky Swift and Sue Jewitt in 2011, based on a US model, which was already successful in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

Enthusiasts believe that food swapping is for everyone. Beekeepers can swap with pastry chefs, who can swap with allotmenteers, who can swap with chocolate makers.

Last week, Apples for Eggs held its first event in Oxford. The newly re-built Dean Court Community Centre in Cumnor, staffed entirely by volunteers, hosted two hours of tasting, talk and money free transactions. It was an opportunity to trade.

Keen gardeners – including Oxford allotment holders – arrived with vegetable plants; bakers balanced scones and exotic loaves; children ran around sampling the many goodies on offer.

Everyone enjoyed the conversations and company.

It was a real community event.

Cumnor resident and local solicitor Fiona Wheeler came across the idea while flicking through a national newspaper on the way to France.

“It really grabbed me because I love experimenting with new ideas, talking to other people about their recipes and most of all eating,” Wheeler said.

Confident of her ability using familiar recipes, Wheeler set about tackling marshmallows. She happily covered her kitchen with “pink goo”. Once bagged up, she had her surfeit to trade.

Henley was the nearest local swap. She signed up. On leaving Oxford, doubts began to set in. She liked her marshmallows, but how would they be received by strangers? It proved a common concern, yet the swap proved “an absolute revelation”.

“It turns out that no one is actually that confident about what they make and having it appreciated by other people is just fantastic,” Wheeler said. She returned home with three types of bread, smoked cheese, homemade cards, seeds, nuts, plums and chutney.

University academic and baker Rebecca Meachin used the Cumnor Apples for Eggs Food Swap forum for local market research.

“The thing I liked best was the friendliness. If you are wanting to set up a business like I am, it’s a really great way to see what others think of your produce in a safe environment,” Meachin said.

Taking photographs of before and after the swap, Meachin’s bakery samples were traded for pots of jam and marmalade, courgette and tomato plants, freshly made scones, and bags of home made sweets including coconut ice and fudge.

“Centres like ours are all about community. Volunteers do the cleaning, the maintenance, the invoicing and the booking out. Our neighbourhood has many elderly residents with limited mobility; tiny babies and people on tight budgets. An event like Apples for Eggs brings the community together. It’s an opportunity for talk and support, sharing and neighbourliness,” Wheeler said.

Contact applesforeggsoxford@gmail.com for information or see applesforeggs.com/