ALTON — Have you ever heard of a seed swap?
It’s an event where farmers and gardeners meet to exchange quality seeds, seedlings, cuttings and bulbs. It’s also a rewarding way to build community and share information about gardening, plant varieties, nutrition and more. Grassroots Grocery is holding an open house featuring a seed swap and potluck from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, at the future home of their cooperative grocery store, 415 Ridge St.
Organizers have reached the two-thirds point in their campaign to bring healthy, affordable food — locally grown whenever possible — to the Hunterstown neighborhood in Alton. The public is invited to celebrate and check out the space where they are planning to open this spring. There is no cost to attend the event and bringing seeds is not required. Participants can bring a dish for the potluck.
Local food producers can apply to be a vendor at the store and will be entered to win a complimentary season at the Alton Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market courtesy of Alton Main Street. Attendees will be able to become a member of Grassroots Grocery on-site and will be entered to win a free cookbook, “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day.”
Demonstrations will be given throughout the day on topics such as seed saving and hydroponic gardening, and kids will enjoy a “seed mosaic” art project. This event is a great opportunity to check out the beautiful new mosaic mural on the exterior of the building, entitled “Abundance.”
Also on Feb. 15, Riverbend Yoga will hold a fund-raiser at their studio at 202 State St. in Alton. Nine classes will be held throughout the day, and all classes are donation based with a suggested minimum of $5 per class. Proceeds will be donated to Grassroots Grocery. An all-day pass can be purchased for $50, which includes all nine classes, a River Bend Yoga 24-ounce insulated cup, a 10 percent discount on lunch compliments of Mac’s Time Out, and a pack of seeds compliments of Grassroots Grocery. This is a great way to meet every instructor in the studio, help the community raise money for additional healthy food options, and enjoy a yoga retreat without leaving the area.
River Bend Yoga — Yoga Immersion Fundraiser for Grassroots Grocery
Special schedule for Sunday, Feb. 15:
- 8 a.m. — Morning Yoga and Breath-Work
- 9 a.m. — Slow Flow Vinyasa
- 10 a.m. — Hatha Flow Yoga
- 11 a.m. — Warm Power Yoga
- 1 p.m. — Fluid Motion Yoga
- 2 p.m. — Balance Focused Yoga
- 3 p.m. — Having Fun with Inversions
- 4 p.m. — Core Focused Yoga
- 5 p.m. — Mudras and Meditation
Upon the store’s opening, members of the cooperative will enjoy the benefit of a 10 percent discount at the full-service grocery, although residents do not need to be members in order to shop. Through the grocery’s charitable policy, many residents who face food insecurity will also qualify for a 10 percent discount. Qualifications include: households on public assistance, low-income households earning up to 125 percent of the Illinois poverty level, and residents of low-income senior assisted living facilities.
Another element of the charitable policy is the opportunity for individuals earning between 125 percent and 200 percent of the state poverty level to earn their membership by volunteering two hours per month at the store. Grassroots Grocery also will enact an “affordability program” to offer a low mark-up on selected items that would be considered staples in many people’s diets. The store will strive for a “zero-waste” policy by transferring items to a discounted clearance section toward the end of their shelf life; ultimately donating items to local food pantries and churches.
Visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org to review levels of donations, each with different perks depending on the contribution amount. These perks will only be available during the kickoff campaign. A short video can be found on the website, which explains the need for such an endeavor and the benefits of having this cooperative in the community. The short-term goal of the project is to build a strong outreach component to educate citizens about the importance of fresh foods and how to prepare them, and the ultimate vision is to foster additional economic growth and job creation in the neighborhood. Grassroots Grocery is a project of the Community Cultivators, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.