{fsc swappers} Swap Time is Here Again!

{photo booth style photos by Christine at the Albany Swap. amazing right?}

We (Britin & Nick) at All Good Bakers hosted the second Albany From Scratch Club food swap Sunday, August 21.  Our tiny bakery was filled to capacity with an enthusiastic crowd loaded with homemade treasures, and something magical took place.

Before Kate Payne came to town back in April and the first area swap was held at her FSC sponsored book signing at Amanda’s home, I had never heard of a food swap which apparently are sweeping the nation and were officially started in Brooklyn by Payne & a friend who wanted to trade honey for marmalade.  They got a like-minded group of friends together for the inaugural swap and while Kate traveled the country to promote her book “The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-Sufficiency–on a Budget!”, she encouraged more gatherings and formal food swap meetups took off.  Although informal bartering has obviously taken place in the past by other illustrious DIYers, the current events are like a party where everyone goes home with presents!  When Chris (FSC founder/editor and local swap goddess) asked us to host, we jumped at the chance.  What could be more fun than 25 people in the bakery at once talking about, tasting and sharing food, made with mindfulness and enthusiasm?

We’ve hosted two swaps now and I have noticed a few patterns.  Most everyone arrives tentatively.  It’s hard to walk into a room of strangers, even those with whom you know you’re bound to have something in common.  After being greeted warmly by Christina or Christine  (FSC contributor who is going to start running the Albany swaps), registering, and finding a table to set up treasures, conversation starts to flow as everyone inspects the array of goods with building excitement.  Some attendees are now veterans and help newcomers feel comfortable.  Several times I’ve heard someone say, “Hey! I didn’t know you would be here!

The bakery begins to fill quickly as more people arrive.  Tables pile up with beautifully adorned arrangements like this.

After about 20 minutes or so, everyone has gotten acquainted and conversations are blooming around what was brought, how it was made, and people begin to make connections.  This is a good time to check out the full range of offerings so you have an idea of what you’d like to swap for.  Then Chris explains how the actual swapping works: First, write your name on the cards accompanying the items you want to trade for and take notes so you remember what you chose and who made it (nametags help you find the person who created each item when swapping starts). Also, it’s important to get your name on a lot of cards in case someone doesn’t want what you are offering (no hard feelings, everyone has different tastes!), but swapping is “one for one”, meaning if you brought 4 items, you take 4 items home.

Now is the time to taste samples.  This is when things begin to get positively giddy!  Personally, I think tasting everything is what gets people most excited.  When you feel silky sweet carrot cake jam slathered over farmer’s cheese on a cracker pass your lips, it’s hard to keep from grabbing all the jars for yourself and bolting out the door, manners be damned!  The buzz in the room increases as swappers realize just how good everything is, surely daydreaming of scarfing a whole serving of something delectable at the kitchen table later while everyone else is asleep (okay, maybe that’s just me).  Items at the last Albany swap ranged from blackberry liquor, the aforementioned farmers cheese, cultured butter, honey, chicken liver pate, jams, marmalades, salsas, produce, flowers and tomato sauce, to body scrubs and herbed salts.

The bakery gets unexpectedly quiet after the tasting session is over and swappers make a beeline for their favorite items.

After it has become clear everyone has finished making their choices, Chris announces that it’s Swap Time!  You simply find the people who have what you want and offer up something you prepared; someone will be trying to find you too so make sure your nametag is clearly visible!  If you get rejected, don’t take it personally. You’re sure to find someone who wants what you’ve brought.  Think of it as a way to meet more people.  Everyone may not get everything they craved, but since you choose the items you like, you’re sure to go home happy.

Laughter, delighted exclamations, good-natured disappointment and more conversations abound at this junction.  This is my favorite part of the swaps – the part when everyone really connects and all nervousness is a faded memory.  I stood on a chair to take pictures and could see everybody interacting, asking questions of each other, forming budding relationships or solidifying burgeoning ones – with a focus on from-scratch food.  My face hurt from smiling by the end – I couldn’t help but feel there was something intangible and bigger happening than simply the exchange of food.  The swaps aren’t just about great eats, they’re about connecting with others in our community, sharing knowledge and experiences, and becoming more deeply involved with our collective food sources.

The next Albany Swap will be a NOFA-NY/FSC/AGB sponsored Locavore Challenge Event!  Come see what all the fuss is about.  I’m willing to be your cheeks will hurt from smiling by the end too, and you may find yourself at your kitchen table at midnight reliving the magic.

+++++

Hey Swappers!

Chris here, ready to announce that the September Food Swaps tickets are available.

But first I wanted to thank Britin for writing the recap and hosting the Albany swaps.

Next up, we have a NEW TICKET POLICY:
If you sign up for a ticket, and can not make it, PLEASE email us at fromscratchclub (at) gmail (dot) com so that we can give the ticket to the next person on the waitlist. This is especially needed for the Albany Swap as we can only allow 25 swappers to RSVP.

Our September swaps are on NOFA-NY’s Locavore Challenge Calendar as featured events. We are asking everyone to bring a little card, for each item, listing the local ingredients & sources of your swap items. This is optional, and not mandatory, so if you forget your card or haven’t used local ingredients- don’t sweat it. It’s just meant to highlight the fabulousness our local foodshed.

Lastly, we will have jars for BOTH our fundraisers (Denison & Kilpatrick Family Farm/Amanda) at the swaps as we can take checks and cash (you will be entered to win one of our many raffle items).

In addition, we will have another jar for the Red Cross and for Britin’s amazing cause that she’s been working hard on: Regional Food & Farm Project.

+++

{fsc swappers} Albany Food Swap
Sunday, September 18th 4-6pm
All Good Bakers, 160A Quail Street, Albany, NY

For Albany Swap Tickets go HERE

{fsc swappers} Saratoga Food Swap
Wednesday, September 21st 7:30-9:30pm
Common Thread Saratoga, 55 Beekman Street, Saratoga Springs, NY

For Saratoga Swap Tickets go HERE

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Categories: Events, FSC Food Swaps

Author:Britin F.

I am 1/2 owner/partner/baker with my husband as All Good Bakers, mother, singer, guitarist, photographer, writer, community and food activist.

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2 Comments on “{fsc swappers} Swap Time is Here Again!”

  1. November 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    Your entire WordPress page is fantastic! What kind of camera do you use?

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  1. {the new year} All Good Bakers’ Full Plates | FROM SCRATCH CLUB - January 24, 2012

    [...] with FarmieMarket and local non-profit, The Regional Farm and Food Project. We hosted FSC’s inaguaral Albany Food Swaps  (great fun surrounding our favorite subject: Good Food!), helped prepare dinner for Michael [...]

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