ALTON — The public is invited to the second spring River Bend Seed Swap from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Grassroots Grocery, 415 Ridge St.
This free event is a casual open house 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.
The public is invited to exchange seeds and check out the backroom space where Grassroots Grocery is planning to open a commercial kitchen this year. There is no cost to attend the event and bringing seeds is not required. Local food producers can apply to be a vendor at the store during this time.
Demonstrations will be given throughout the day on topics such as seed saving and hydroponic gardening, and children will enjoy a “seed mosaic” art project. Organizers are working with Senior Services Plus to offer sandwiches and wraps for purchase that day, highlighting new items the grocery will introduce to the public, made fresh daily at SSP; the revenue is split between the two nonprofits.
For the second year in a row, this event is being organized by Sierra Club’s local food intern, Dana Wynn. Wynn’s SIUE research topic will focus on sustainability and urban gardening in Greater Alton. Wynn will implement four free events for the public and for 10 “Green Teams” that will participate in a project that spans several months. Teams will highlight topics and skills in sustainability, either starting a community garden or compost area, making a cookbook using only garden ingredients, or starting an herb garden.
“I am looking at the benefits of implementing sustainable living practices using a food education curriculum to gain qualitative and quantitative research data,” Wynn said. “So, we will be giving demonstrations throughout the Seed Swap on topics such as seed saving and hydroponic gardening.”
The public and future Green Teams are invited to the free workshops:
Feb. 27: Incorporating natives in your garden space to increase biodiversity at The Nature Institute, 2213 Levis Lane, Godfrey (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)
March 12: Lily Transplant Party at the Historic Koenig House, Fourth and Oak, Alton (9 a.m. to noon)
May date TBD: Seed Saving Workshop at the Hayner Library Alton Square Mall Branch
Grassroots Grocery is a full-service grocery store open to the public. Through the grocery’s charitable policy, residents who face food insecurity qualify for a 10 percent discount each time they shop. 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.
“Anyone on SNAP (formerly food stamps) will get 10 percent off their entire bill because we believe that everyone has a right to fresh, healthy food no matter their income,” said Christine Favilla, Grassroots Grocery co-founder. “With the bulk beans and grains available, along with produce grown in this town, mealtimes can be more nutritious and less expensive for everyone.”
Grassroots also offers cooperative memberships at $100 per year, allowing members to enjoy the benefit of a 10 percent discount on purchases.
The short-term goal of the project is to build a strong outreach component to educate citizens about the importance of fresh foods, how to purchase ingredients, and how to prepare them. The ultimate vision is to foster economic growth and job creation in the neighborhood; they already hired three neighbors, bringing their paid staff number up to eight.
To stay up-to-date on store news, visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org or www.facebook.com/GrassrootsGrocery. For information, contact Christine Favilla at (618) 401-7870 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Sara McGibany at email@example.com or (618) 463-1016.