{FSC SWAPPERS} A Community Has Sprouted.

{swap loot}

Have you been to a swap yet?

If not, find a swap in your area and sign-up because you are missing out on, yes the food, but more importantly the blossoming of community that’s being fostered. Of course, if you’re competitive like me, you’ll want to go for the rush of excitement when its “Open Swap Time”. Ohhh the rush!

Wow. I’m a dork.

As the hostess, most of the time I spend running around making sure swappers have enough table space, explaining the swap process. But in between the madness, I stop and watch the scene: vibrant, alive, loud, excited, sincere, animated. Laughing, sharing, joking, drinking, eating and hugging. Gardeners, homeschoolers, vegetarians, Celiac’s & the food allergic, DIYers, backyard farmers, vegans, hobby farmers, foodies, local/fair food advocates and foragers have a place to meet, share stories, tips and email addresses to foster friendships. A Community is sprouting. Friendships are being made.  Food is Community.

{strangers at the beginning of the evening, friends by the end}

June 15th was the official start of our swaps. Our May Swap was the tester, which we definitely needed, because it gave us a chance to figure out  space issues, etiquette, and swap procedure before our June debut. We had 29 participants registered and 27 people attended bringing everything from radishes and greens from their gardens to tomato transplants, dried herbs, vanilla extract, kombucha SCOBIES, vegan cookies, chicken stock (I brought that and no one wanted it- boo), pies, jams, compotes, date puree, cheesy bread, garlic scape/white bean spread, pitas with hummus and garlic scape tzaziki (Liz’s recipe is coming up this week! its here!) and pies.

The swap process went off without a hitch and it seemed that everyone was thrilled with their loot and were quickly plotting what they would bring to the next swap. We also had some local food bloggers as swappers; Albany Jane from Albany Eats! and Becky from Mixing Bowl Diaries (the link is to her recap of the swap!). We also had a member of Slow Food Saratoga, can’t get any “slower” food than a food swap right?, and a brief visit from Farmer Michael, my boss, of Kilpatrick Family Farm. Oh, and if you were wondering, Michael was treated like a local celebrity…everyone loves a farmer who feeds their family.

{A happy swapper with their tomato transplant baby}

From these two swaps, I’ve gathered a few strategic food swap tips:
1) Wait a swap or two to bring “seasonal” fruit-stuffs. Meaning, if strawberry & rhubarb are currently in season, wait a swap or two before bringing your jam to swap because a great percentage of items (muffins, cakes, pies) will contain those fruits. This might mean that its less likely someone will find your jam appealing. Upon looking at your amazing jam, a swapper might think to themselves: “Oh, I’ll grab some rhubarb & strawberries at Saturday’s market and make some this weekend“. But if the fruits are already out of season, whoa, people will be more likely to want it.

2) Know you audience. I brought a few quart containers of chicken stock thinking they would be a hit. FAIL. I mean serious FAIL. Not one personal wanted it, who had stuff left to swap. I begged & pleaded at the end of the night to a resounding “no thanks” and “I’d love to but I have a freezer full of the stuff“. HA! What I’ve learned is this; people going to our food swap in Saratoga Springs probably make their own stock with the bones of their own meat chickens or from a chicken purchased at the farmers market. That said, chicken stock might be a hit at our new Albany Swap (I’ll let you know, as I’ll try again). So don’t be afraid to bring something, just know you might be taking it back home- which was fine with me. I can always use GF, allergen-free chicken stock.

3) Have samples. If people can sample your spread/dip/jam/dilly green beans; they are more likely to want to swap for it. The unknown food product is sometimes scary.

4) Baked Goods and “Meals to Go” are always a hit. I gotta say, due to Miles’ food allergies I will probably never bring any of my cardboard-like breads or crackers or semi-edible muffins and cookies to trade, but I will sure trade for some cookies that Chuck & I can eat after Miles goes to bed. At the June swap, I also traded for Liz’s “meal to go” set of pine nut & basil hummus, garlic scape tzaziki and homemade whole wheat pitas to eat the next day, during my CSA deliveries. Personally, it was the best swap item ever. Delish! In addition, although I never got my hands on it, Dianna’s Green Enchilladas in the Frozen North were a huge hit too…Just sayin’

5) Even though some swappers aren’t gonna want to hear this: Cutesy labels are attractive and win votes. Also recipe cards for the item is also a big plus. People that come to a swap like to create in the kitchen, if they like it, they will want to make it.

6) My last suggestion is this: Please make a list of all ingredients on your label or take home recipe card. Of course, I assume all items at the swap are unsafe for Miles, so everything except for canned veg & jams, I eat only with Chuck. This last suggestion isn’t so much about food safety but transparency. People wanna know what they are eating. Period.

{FSC’s Erika, Boozer & Buddly w/ frozen berry drink maker}

Okay, now with all the recappin’ and tips out of the way its time to announce our next {set} of swaps. That’s right folks, starting this month we will have two swaps a month; our usual event at Common Thread Saratoga and now a swap in Albany. Come on Albany, Troy, Schenectady and the surrounding areas; get your swapping on!

Sunday, July 17th 4-6pm at All Good Bakers 160 Quail Street, Albany, NY. RSVP on EVENTBRITE (25 tickets available- everyone must get a ticket- space is a premium).

Wednesday, July 20th, 7:30-9:30pm at Common Thread Saratoga, 55 Beekman Street, Saratoga Springs, NY. RSVP on Eventbrite. (40 tickets available)

*All Photos were taken by Jillian!

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Categories: FSC Food Swaps

Author:Christina

Finding her true calling, connecting people to their local foodshed, Christina is the Editor & Founder of From Scratch Club and a proud CSA Member & Market Crew member of Kilpatrick Family Farm. At the homestead, she is the Chef de Cuisine, Master Baker & Head Food Preservationist to her husband Charles and their 2 year old son, Miles Jae. Although always a supporter of local, sustainable, humane and whole foods, Chris is now on a serious mission to bring those principles into her kitchen due to Miles Jae’s multiple food allergy diagnosis, asthma and the rare disease, EE. All of her recipes are dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten/wheat, pea, corn & sesame free.

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14 Comments on “{FSC SWAPPERS} A Community Has Sprouted.”

  1. July 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    We are excited over at All Good to be hosting the first Albany FSC Swap!!

  2. July 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Geez, this post almost made me a little teary! it really is an incredible community that is developing and the energy at the swaps are a testament to that.

    • July 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

      YES- the energy was electric. (Boogie Woogie Woogie- I couldn’t resist) Totally exciting stuff. I’m kinda amazed by the whole thing.

  3. July 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Nick (my hubs, All Good’s baker) is working on a special sourdough starter to raffle off for the Albany Swap!

  4. July 7, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    I love it! I really have made so many great friends and connections through these.
    And I’m glad you caught me at what I’m good at. :)

  5. Dianna
    July 11, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    I am looking forward to the next swap, but don’t expect cutesy labels from me. Ya’ll be lucky if my containers don’t leak this time.

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