ALTON — The public is invited to the second annual Seed Swap in the Riverbend, where farmers and gardeners meet to exchange seeds, seedlings, cuttings and bulbs.
Organizers say it’s a rewarding way to build community and share information about gardening, plant varieties, nutrition and more. Grassroots Grocery is hosting this seed swap from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 6, at partner Senior Services Plus’ location at 2306 N. Rodgers Ave. in Alton.
Seed Swap organizers are working with Senior Services Plus to ensure that healthy, affordable food is locally grown and distributed. SSP delivers 378 home-cooked meals daily to homebound seniors and their gardens provide produce used in the meals and featured at the School House Grill. Grassroots Grocery also sells sandwiches and wraps to the public, made fresh daily at SSP; the revenue is split between the two nonprofits.
On Saturday, the public is invited to check out SSP’s greenhouse space, where they are planning to hydroponically grow three types of lettuce year-round for Grassroots Grocery. The Sierra Club and other volunteers helped put in 20 additional raised garden beds for more production in 2016. Volunteers are needed both in the greenhouse and in the raised garden beds: contact Senior Services Plus’ Compassionate Growers Project leader Kelly Chapman at (618) 465-3298 ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
For the second consecutive year, the event is being organized by Sierra Club’s local food intern Dana Wynn. Her SIUE research topic will focus on sustainability and urban gardening in Greater Alton. Wynn will implement four free events for the general public and for 10 Green Teams that will participate in a project during the span of several months. Teams will highlight topics and skills in sustainability, either starting a community garden or a community compost area, making a cookbook using only garden ingredients, or starting an herb garden.
“I would like to look at benefits of implementing sustainable living practice 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)
- April: To be announced.
Grassroots Grocery is a full-service grocery store open to the public; however, they offer cooperative memberships at $100 per year, giving members a 10 percent discount on all purchases. Through the grocery’s charitable policy, many residents who face food insecurity 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.
“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.”
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 additional economic growth and job creation in the neighborhood; they already hired three neighbors, bringing their paid staff number up to eight.
To stay updated on store news, visit www.GrassrootsGrocery.org or www.facebook.com/GrassrootsGrocery. For more information, contact Christine Favilla at (618) 401-7870 or email@example.com; or Sara McGibany at firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 463-1016.