Local Food Fest ~ A Homegrown Gathering in Peninsula

2012 07 07_6993_edited-1Sunday, August 4th 2013, join us as we celebrate the 1st annual Local Food Fest – A Homegrown Gathering in Peninsula, Ohio. The Cuyahoga River Valley has a rich history of agriculture, and small farms have been providing nearby communities with food for over a century; this is still true today.

On Sunday you will have an opportunity to taste and explore the Local Food Community in the charming village of Peninsula with a full day of events planned around local food and farms.

The day’s schedule is below and we hope that  you join us for a true Homegrown Gathering in Peninsula!

FARM HISTORY

  • Heritage Farms  Farm History Day
    6050 Riverview Road
    www.heritagefarms.com
    9 am – 5 pm $5 per person admission
    Antique tractors, Women on the Farm display, farm tool display, and talks throughout the day on Heritage Farms’ past, present and future.
    Daylily End of Season sale.
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ranger Rebecca Jones-Macko, Presents a History of Farming in Cuyahoga Valley
    4:30 – 5 pm at G.A.R. Hall as part of the Home Grown Evening Event

FARM TOURS

Get to know your local farmers! Five Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Initiative Farms will offer 3/30 minute tours of their farms at 11am, 12pm and 1pm. Choose which farms you’d like to tour. The fee is $5.00 per person/per farm and you pay at the farms. Tour Cards can be found HERE. Have the farmers and local merchants sign your card for a chance to win a fantastic gift basket! For tour information contact Tracy at Countryside 330-657-2542 x223

Trapp Family Farm
1019 W. Streetsboro RD
Peninsula, OH 44264
Parking at old Players Barn (please stay away from barn & road for safety)
Neitenbach Farm
3077 Akron Peninsula RD
Akron, OH 44313
Look for parking sign
Goatfeathers Point Farm
4570 Akron Peninsula RD
Peninsula, OH 44264
Please park only in designated areas
The Spicy Lamb Farm
6560 Akron Peninsula RD (only accessible from Boston Mills RD)
Peninsula, OH 44264
Parking along east side of road in front of farm
Greenfield Berry Farm
2485 Major RD
Peninsula, OH 44264
Parking in field to the right of the driveway

FOOD, MARKETPLACE & MERCHANTS
11 am – 4 pm
Canning Demonstrations by Beth Knorr, Countryside Conservancy
11am & 1pm
On the Green at Bronson Church
Route 303 in Peninsula
Event Parking at G.A.R. Hall

SPECIALS IN LOCAL BUSINESSES
Visit these area businesses and celebrate locally grown, locally crafted, locally brewed and locally enjoyed products; samplings, tastings & have your tour card signed.

Yellow Creek Trading Co.
1685 Main Street
Kool Things will be selling tasty frozen treats on their porch & samplings of local items

Trail Mix Peninsula
1600 West Mill Street
Featuring local food items sold in the store with samplings/tastings on our patio. Tina Bergman performing 1-3 pm on the patio

Le Seraglio  
1593 Main Street
Complimentary baklava to shoppers

Elements Gallery
1619 West Mill Street
Offering fine porcelain & stoneware tableware; wooden utensils; local honey

Szalay’s Farm Market
4563 Riverview Road
Locally grown corn; Produce; Roasted sweet corn; Fresh squeezed lemonade; Sundaes

Brandywine Country Club  
5555 Akron Peninsula Road
Main Clubhouse featuring Great Lakes Brewing Co. brews
Main golf course open 6 am – 9 pm.  Par 3 open 9 am – 9 pm

Winking Lizard Tavern
1615 Main St.
Hoppin Frog’s Turbo Shandy.in the Cellar   1 – 7 pm

 Skip’s Peninsula Junction
1639 Mill Street
Open Air Market featuring local food and craft vendors

Fishers Café & Pub
1607 Main Street
Serving Ohio Grass Fed Beef Burgers & Thirsty Dog beer

 

HOME GROWN EVENING at the G.A.R. Hall

We are honored to have Chef Ben Bebenroth of Spice Kitchen & Bar prepare a dish for as he discusses the importance of using locally grown ingredients. Patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy this dish as Ben demonstrates its preparation.

 This  will be preceded by a wine and craft beer tasting paired with artisan cheeses and other locally produced appetizers while Park Ranger Rebecca Jones Macko speaks on the history of farming in the Cuyahoga Valley.  Cash Bar also available.

Tickets are $30 which includes 3 tastings and one pour of locally bottled wines or local craft beers, appetizers, farm history presentation,  cooking demonstration and the prepared dish from Ben Bebenroth.

 Doors open at 4pm at the Historic G.A.R. Hall at the corner of RT 303 and Riverview Road.(1785 Main Street for GPS users). 

Limited number of seats,  Reservations can be made on line at www.peninsulahistory.org or by calling 330-657-2528

4:00 – 4:30   Wine & Craft Beer with appetizer pairings
4:30 – 5:00  Rebecca Jones,  History of Farms at G.A.R. Hall
5:00 – 5:45  Ben Bebenroth of Spice Kitchen & Bar
7:00 Doors close at the G.A.R. Hall

 

Countrysidechix Rockin’ the Local Food Scene

BLtBCbeCcAABuUHFor a second straight year Countryside Conservancy (aka @countrysidechix on Twitter) teamed up with environmental non-profit REVERB to provide fresh, local food for the crew of the Dave Mathews Band. Famers’ Market Manager and local food hero, Beth Knorr  sourced everything from kale to croissants for the band’s visit to Akron this past weekend, sourcing local from over 22 farmers and food artisans.

REVERB was founded by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her husband, musician, Adam Gardner. They work to educate and engage musicians and their fans to live more sustainably. The Dave Mathews Band has long been a strong voice and leader in environmental and food security issues. Dave Mathews also sits on the board of Farm Aid.

As part of the band’s Bama Green Project,  Countryside was asked to source local foods for the band, but in addition, the project sold seed packs at the DMB concert with all the proceeds being donated to the Akron Canton Food Bank to purchase local food for their community through the Countryside Conservancy. The total raised was just over $1300! Rock on!

Countryside Farmers’ Market Volunteer Opportunities

Heather Roszczyk, market assistant

Email me today to join our team of wonderful volunteers!

Volunteer Positions for Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow

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Volunteer and Chef Brian Doyle shakes things up. Photo by Gary Whipple.

Set-up (6:30am – 8:30am): Early birds only!  We need one or two volunteers to meet us in the meadow at the crack of dawn, help us unload our market van, and set up some tents and booths.  This job is great for those who want to get a jump on their day, or like to run or bike early in the park.  Involves some listing.

Parking (8:45 – 11:45am, or a portion thereof):  Don a stylish orange vest and work with other volunteers to direct traffic, guide customers to empty spaces, and help pedestrians cross the busy lot.  This is a great job for people who don’t like to sit still.  Friendliness is important – you are the very first market representatives to greet our customers!

Tear-down (12:00pm – 1:00pm):  At the end of the market, we can always use a few extra hands to tear down tents and reload the van.  Parking volunteers often stay to help with this, but it’s not a requirement  Again, this involves some lifting.

Special Event (variable):  Every so often we hold special events at the market and need extra help to manage them.  It may be anything from helping children decorate pumpkins to organizing entries in a pie contest.  This is great for people who can only help out once in a while.

Market Photographer (most flexible):  We are always looking for beautiful photos of our market to use in our newsletters and, occasionally, in publication.  If you’ve taken some gorgeous shots, give them to us in .jpg format and we’ll be sure to give you a photo credit whenever we use them!

Demo or Sous Chef (occasional, 8:30am – 11:30am):  We often have food enthusiasts demonstrate their favorite recipes at the market.  Occasionally they ask for a sous chef – someone to help with chopping, distributing samples, etc.  Or, if you are an outgoing, seasoned cook who would be interested in demonstrating an easy recipe or two at the market, let us know that too!

Musician (9:00am – 12:00pm):  Each week we enjoy the sounds of a different volunteer musician.  We welcome all styles of music, provided that it’s appropriate for the location and all ages.

Volunteer Positions for Countryside Farmers’ Market at Highland Square

Children’s Activities (3:30pm-7:00pm): Do you have a good rapport with small people?  Share your local food enthusiasm as you execute planned activities like scavenger hunts, gardening, cooking, and comparative tastings.  Duties may also include set-up/tear-down of children’s tent.  Please note that this position may require a background check.

Demo Chef (occasional, 3:30pm-6:30pm):  We often have food enthusiasts demonstrate their favorite recipes at the market.  If you are an outgoing, seasoned cook who would be interested in demonstrating an easy recipe or two at the market, let us know!  You need not be a trained chef – confident home cooks are welcome.

Set-up  (2:00pm – 4:00pm): Give us a hand unloading our truck and getting the booths set up.  Then, stick around to help the vendors unload as needed.  A lovely way to get to know your growers better!

Tear-down (7:00pm – 8:00pm):  At the end of the market, we and the vendors can always use a few extra hands to tear down our tents and reload our trucks.

Save The Date!

We will be seeking volunteers for the 11th Annual Summer Solstice Wine, Art, & Music Festival at Sarah’s Vineyard.  The festival dates are Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23.  Volunteers are needed to sell wine sampling tickets during shifts ranging from 2-3 hours in length.  More details about specific shift times will be sent in late May.

Homo Sapiens Are Supposed to Eat What? – Part 1

Darwin P. Kelsey, Executive Director

I’m pretty sure humans – especially American humans – shouldn’t be eating a lot of the stuff in the so-called “Western Diet” now being consumed by millions of people living in our modern industrialized world. Four of America’s top ten deadly chronic diseases are related to that diet. The causes are complex and somewhat hard to understand – harder still to fix.

But homo sapiens (HS) were around for a long time before we began abusing ourselves with the Western Diet. There is evidence that early on, Mr. & Mrs. HS were doing things that my modern day vegetarian-vegan friends wouldn’t like. For example, archeological sites linking humans and charred animal bones date back at least a half million years. At some point – archeologists and others say about 10,000 years ago – many HS types began switching from hunter-gatherers to herder-farmers. And over the last couple of centuries, lots of HS cadavers have been carved open for careful examination of their digestive tracts. It turns out that like rats, pigs, and chickens, humans evolved as “omnivores” – eaters of both plants and animals. More on that shortly.

But first, I have to explain what got me started on this subject just now – or, more accurately, blogging about it (a modern habit I have been resisting). Last Fall, I drafted a “foundation document” to help guide planning and development of a Countryside Center – a new administrative and programming hub for the Countryside Initiative here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It included things about the origins and purpose of both CVNP and the Countryside Conservancy (CC) that caused staff members to say “I didn’t know that”. Then they said, “You should share that on our blog.” I said, OK. Then they said, “what about all those books you are always reading and talking about – you should be sharing that stuff on our blog, too”. Uh, OK.

Actually, I began to feel better about this blogging thing when it occurred to me that it could be a little like the column I used to write for the Lake Farmpark Almanac when I worked at Farmpark in the 1990’s. Those short articles were intended to get people interested in and reflecting on some ideas and issues important to their lives, not to mention the planet in general. Some of the things I wrote about then are just as relevant today. So, I am going to begin this particular “blog series” which I’ll call “Homo Sapiens Are Supposed to Eat What?” by sharing a column I wrote for the Lake Farmpark Almanac (Summer, 1999), Vol. 5, No. 3. It was called “Ice Cream for Omnivores” – and it introduced three other articles on the history of ice cream and ice cream making. Most of what I said fourteen years ago remains valid today – and I think interesting. As you’ll see, it does raise issues about what kind of animals HS are, and how their food choices can affect the ecological, social, and economic health of their communities.

Homo sapiens only recently evolved as a consumer of ice cream – the luscious stuff featured in this issue of Farmpark Almanac. Perhaps evolved is the wrong term for the process by which we acquired the habit of consuming vast quantities of frozen and flavored milk. As the following article on ice cream history reveals, the habit was acquired recently, suddenly, and is now just a little shy of universal. In a few countries, such as China, where a “milk culture” is lacking, ice cream remains something of a delicacy. But in western countries such as the USA, an average family consumes ice cream daily. And I don’t blame them.

But lusting after ice cream raises the contentious issue of animal products in the human diet – and that inexorably sucks us into profound questions about human nature. Peter Cheeke ponders this controversy in his recent book Contemporary Issues in Animal Agriculture (1999). He weaves a diverse array of scientific and cultural information into a balanced, fair, and good-humored account. Cheeke possesses a rare gift for putting things in context and perspective. What follows here is based on a small section of his book called, “What Kind of Animal Are We?”

The dietary habits of all animals are strongly related to taste reception, teeth, and digestive tract. Cows, for example, like to eat grass. They have teeth well adapted to grazing and mastication. And they have an enlarged digestive tract, housing a huge population of microbes that digest grass. Fortunately, cows do not like to eat animal flesh, because they lack long sharp teeth, claws, and the speed and stealth necessary to stalk and kill prey. And their digestive tract is not adapted to digesting meat. One might infer, therefore, that cows are herbivores (eaters of plants only) rather than carnivores (eaters of meat only). By the same logic, we can infer that a tiger is a carnivore and not an herbivore. So are pussycats, despite efforts by many owners to feed their kitties anything but meat.

The dietary habits of human animals are also closely related to taste preference, dentition (teeth type), and the way our digestive tract works. It turns out that we are neither herbivores or carnivores. Like rats, pigs, and chickens, humans are omnivores (eaters of both plant and animal matter). We prefer, and are well adapted to nutrient rich, low-fiber stuff like seeds, nuts, fruit, and meat. If you doubt this, try a hearty meal of grass, corn stalks, or oat hulls. Then wait a few hours for additional sensations from the other end of your digestive tract. Should a passing cow ask “was that as good for you, as it was for me?” I think you’ll know the answer.

Some scientists argue that humans must have evolved on a high-fiber, low-fat diet much like our cousin, the gorilla, who finds a vegetarian fare yummy and healthy. They note that captive gorillas, fed diets containing meat and eggs, develop high cholesterol levels and premature cardiovascular disease. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, our ancient ancestors really did like high-energy, low fiber foods but they didn’t have access to the massive doses of concentrated sugars and fats we consume daily. Nor were they plagued with the sedentary lifestyle, common to modern humans and captive gorillas. Modern humans and captive gorillas simply have not had time to evolve complete tolerance for the potent stuff we pour into our pie-holes.

So – should we or shouldn’t we eat lots of animal products? For starters, it is no longer possible for those of us who hanker after steak and ice cream to claim they are nutritionally essential. Since 1948, when vitamin B12 was identified as the “animal protein factor,” it has been possible for non-ruminants like pigs, chickens, and humans to get along without eating anything animal. Millions of healthy vegetarians – not to mention our modern swine and poultry industries – are proof enough. By using synthetic vitamin B12, we can now satisfy the basic nutritional requirement our bodies have been satisfying for millions of years with animal parts and products. But should we? Do we really need to?

Some people believe it is morally wrong to hunt or raise animals for food. That ethical question can be debated endlessly without arriving at one single right answer. Like the issues of abortion, pacifism, or environmental pollution, the issue of eating meat is complex and value laden. Some say slaughtering a hog is murder. Others say such an idea is irrational, that animals are part of the food chain. Some must live and die, so others can eat. In a normal ecosystem, they note, no wild rabbit ever dies of old age.

What about the global ecosystem? What are the roles of plants? What are the roles of animals – herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores? The answers to these questions are also value laden – ultimately, perhaps, matters of opinion. Like Peter Cheeke, I think herbivores such as rabbits, voles, and deer convert vegetation to a more nutritious form for animals further up the food chain – animals such as hawks, eagles, bobcats, and wolves. Indeed, many kinds of vegetation need herbivores to survive. And many carnivores and omnivores still need herbivores to survive. Domesticated herbivores – like cattle, sheep, and goats – are essentially prey for humans and play an ecological role once filled by herds of bison, elk, and deer. They also make possible “milk culture” – and ice cream. So, think about that the next time you order two scoops of triple fudge chocolate.

Well, I hope this gets a conversation started among Countryside related HS on what we should eat and why – and what that’s got to do with the countryside. In my next blog on this topic I want to “ruminate” on stomachs and guts – how yours and mine work differently than cows’, and how theirs work differently than horses’. I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg – but I know HS guts came along long before the Western Diet; and the two of them are definitely having trouble getting along.

What’s new on the Countryside Initiative Farms

Spicy Lamb SpringSpring is hopping along! The cold temperatures can’t slow a farmer down, nature won’t wait. The farmers here in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are busy prepping the ground and planting seeds. Here is a taste of what some of them are up to:

The Spicy Lamb Farm
The Blessing of the Sheep: Saturday, April 20st, 12 to 2pm: Do not miss our annual Blessing of the Sheep with bagpipes and herding demonstrations. $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Our spring hours for picking up lamb or wool products are Mondays from 4-7pm from April 8th to May 20th or by appointment. Please email laura@thespicylamb.com for an appointment.

Greenfield Berry Farm
CSA shares are still available and those interested can find more information at www.greenfieldberryfarm.com or email us for a flyer at greenfieldberryfarm@hotmail.com.

Brunty Farms
We are excited to announce the addition of beef at the farm.  We had our first beef processed two weeks ago and it has been a great success. We will have fresh cuts available at the farmers’ market and on farm throughout the season.
FINALLY, fresh chicken season is almost here!  Whole, cut, and select cuts of pasture raised chicken will be available beginning the first week of May.  We will have fresh cornish game hens available at the market this weekend!
We are taking orders for sides of pork and whole hogs that will be ready for processing in late May.  For more information on cuts and pricing please visit our website: http://www.bruntyfarms.com/Brunty_Farms/Pork.html
Don’t forget that the retail area on the farm is open from 8a-8p Mon-Sat and 11a-6p on Sun. Swing by for fresh eggs, pork, lamb, beef, and poultry.  The farm coolers and freezers are always fully stocked!
The Trapp Family Farm
We currently have eggs for sale at the farm.  Near the end of May we will add vegetables and chickens to a roadside stand.  If you want to insure a steady, abundant supply of our produce, eggs, pasture-raised broilers, turkeys, pork and more inquire about the Trapp Family Food Guild at trapp.family.farm@gmail.com or visit the farm for more details.
 Neitenbach Farm
This season Neitenbach Farm is excited to announce that we will be implementing biodynamic practices on our farm!!! For more information on farming biodynamically please visit https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html  Also, if you would like to join our family of CSA members please do so…shares are filling up and we only have two left!  For more information on or CSA go to http://www.cvcountryside.org/farmland/documents/NeitenbachCSA.pdf  or http://www.localharvest.org/neitenbach-farm-M48156  You can also contact Neitenbach Farm at 330.321.9026 or neitenbachfarm@earthlink.net for more information.
Goatfeathers Point Farm
Natural, pasture raised beef is NOW available at Goatfeathers Point Farm! Choose a small or large Beef Bundle with a variety of select cuts. Individual cuts – steaks, roasts, ground…….. are also available. Email goatfeathers2@gmail.com or call 330-657-2726 for more details.
Basket of Life Farm
Basket of Life Farm is getting ready for another exciting season.  We have been busy starting seeds and planning for the season.  With over 150 varieties of seeds purchased there is a lot of planning going on! As the weather has finally started to turn everything will be able to start hitting the ground, which is when it feels like spring.
There are still a limited number of CSA spaces available for our 2013 season!  The CSA is filling up fast . As the oldest CSA in our national park & this will be our eleventh CSA season, and we continue to grow and improve.  Please visit our website at www.basketoflifefarm.com for CSA details and photos of previous year shares.  Members can expect an overflowing 1/2 bushel box each week, last year our shares averaged 10 different items a week weighing (on average) 15 pounds a week.  Payment plans are available.  Email with any questions heather@basketoflifefarm.com.
Don’t forget to friend on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Basket-of-Life-Farm/279073224620)  or join our mailing list (http://www.basketoflifefarm.com/mailinglist) to stay up to date on all our farm events.  We will be teaching a Gardening class with the Countryside Conservancy April 23rd and in May we will be doing a class at the Spicy Lamb Farm on Using the Seasons Bounty.   We will also be hosting an Onion Planting Day, for anyone who is interested in helping us get over 10,000 onions planted in a few hour period.  Later in the season we will have preserving classes, kids days, member potlucks, a variety of workdays, and a fall gleaning day (for donations to the food bank.)
Thanks for your support of our farm and local food!  We are eager for another great season.

Countryside Local Food MOVment

market 2

Support programming like Countryside Farmers’ Markets by participating in the Countryside Local Food MOVment

This spring, we at Countryside Conservancy are expanding our focus on food access and nutrition to include physical activity.  On May 11, we’ll kick off a four-week-long event, Countryside Local Food MOVment, to engage market supporters with local food by encouraging them to travel the same distance as the products they enjoy from their favorite market vendors while raising funds for Countryside.

To participate in the MOVment, market supporters will don a MOVband, a simple and fun wrist-worn activity monitor created by Brecksville-based company, Movable, that leverages the latest accelerometer technology to track all movement and convert it into mileage.  The MOVband is equipped with three settings – time, movement, and total mileage- and easily syncs data to an online account.  Through this free account, they will track their physical activity as they move their way to 100 miles over the span of four weeks.  The 100-mile mark is a common benchmark for what is considered “local.”  Because all of our farmers’ market vendors are located less than 100 miles from the market, participants will get a feel for exactly how far their food travels each week to get to their plate.  Along the way, they will raise funds and awareness for Countryside with the help of a personalized fundraising page.  As they progress, Countryside will send them personalized emails of encouragement, containing detailed profiles of the farmers and producers that provide their food, as well as information on nearby beautiful and historic points of interest in the national park system.  Guided hikes will depart from Howe Meadow on Saturday mornings to encourage customers to get active together.  Participants will also be entered into weekly raffles based on the distance they cover, with the chance to win exciting prizes.

A one-time $30 fee enables participants to register for the Countryside Local Food MOVment.  Once registered, they will receive their own MOVband, and a personal fundraising page where they can recruit sponsors and collect donations online. Participants will be encouraged to raise $100 ($1 per mile) for Countryside Conservancy to support programming like Countryside Farmers’ Markets, Countryside Food

MOVbands come in loads of fun colors.  Sign up to get yours!

MOVbands come in loads of fun colors. Sign up to get yours!

Swaps, and classes for farmers, backyard gardeners, and DIYers.

The event will kick off on opening day of the Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow on May 11, 2013.  Participants may pre-register beginning April 1 via the Countryside Conservancy website (www.cvcountryside.org), at Countryside Winter Farmers’ Market at Old Trail School on April 6 and 27, or at the market on May 11.  A finish line celebration will occur on June 8, where prizes will be awarded for Highest Fundraiser, Fastest Finisher, Most Miles Moved, Youngest Participant, and Oldest Participant.

Swapping Secrets

Erin Molnar, Program Assistant (and Enthusiastic Swapper)

Tuesday is the big day – the February Food Swap!

Some of the delicious swapping goods.

Some of the delicious swapping goods.

I am very excited. The January Swap was a hit and now, there are even more people psyched for the event. We were featured in the Cleveland Magazine Blog (thank you Laura Taxel) and on Quick Bites (thank you Vivian Goodman and WKSU). AND I have a slightly better idea of how to prepare for and facilitate the evening. I think February is going to outshine January by quite a bit.

After that first swap, I sent a small survey to participants to get feedback on logistics, but also to ask what advice they have for future swappers. The responses were fantastic and I want to share them with you.

We will be doing things just slightly different this time around.

  • We will be taking a few moments at the beginning of the evening to introduce ourselves – just names and what they brought. People mentioned that during the swapping portion of the evening, they had a hard time finding the person who made the item for which they wanted to swap. Also, knowing names can make it easier to approach someone in a setting where many people are strangers. We will also be requesting that people put their items on their name tags.
  • While standing on a couch and speaking loudly was relatively successful for getting people’s attention, this time I am bringing the market cow bell! I hope this will help to clarify shifts in the evening. There will also be an announced few minutes of preparation time between browsing and bidding; this will allow swappers to look over their sheets and know who is interested in their items. I am also feeling more confident about timing – how long to let each portion of the evening last.
  • The swap sheets will be larger this time, and I will be bringing pens, instead of pencils, for bidding.
  • I am also sending a reminder email to participants. This is to ensure that swappers are oriented to the flow and expectations of the evening. This includes labeling. I think labels with contact and storage information are REALLY important and I did not emphasize or enforce this adequately last time.
Many swappers. Tiny space. We will have more space this time.

Many swappers. Tiny space. More space this time, no worries.

Now. Time for the secrets of the experienced swapper.

  • Several people mentioned portion size. In various places, I had recommended to consider an 8-oz jar of jam or a pint of pickles as a good reference. But I think this is something that can’t be said too often or in too many places. Some responses referenced a dollar amount, rather than actual size – generally $5. 
  • Regarding how many items to bring – some people would have brought more, some less. People who brought several items – 8+ – liked this because they could say yes to many offered swaps. They ended up with items that were not necessarily high on their priority list, but thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Swappers also recommended bringing a quantity of one or two items, rather than several different items.
  • Sampling was also a common theme, and I think it came from two perspectives. People who did sample felt that had a lot to do with the demand for their items. And I think for items that didn’t have samples, people felt that they may have been interested if they had had the opportunity to taste.
  • A couple people also recommended choosing unique items to swap. I agree, but this does not mean that you have to delve into molecular gastronomy. For example, sea salt chocolate chip cookies might be popular than your standard Tollhouse. But I also think there is certainly a place for good old standards.
  • Packaging also came up. A professional look is not necessary, just appropriate. I got pretty crafty with my mustard last time, but that is because I am really into branding. (For example, I follow this blog.) Your packaging and labeling can be as fancy or simple as you wish.

There were also a few comments that pertain to potential swappers. Mostly, do not feel intimidated. Everyone has something to offer. I would swap for chicken stock, or stew, or a pre-made salad (you know, where you just layer the ingredients in a container). I like to experiment in the kitchen – hence, mustard and curd – but sometimes I am a slacker with my actual meals, and as my office-mates can attest, TERRIBLE at packing a reasonable (if any) lunch at all.

If you are a current swapper or a potential swapper or a vicarious swapper, and haven’t joined our Facebook group, please do! It’s an excellent forum for feedback, suggestions, advice, recipe sharing, connecting with new swapping friends. And while you’re on the Facebook, “Like” Countryside Conservancy if you don’t already. This will keep you updated about the swaps, and all of the great programming we have to offer.

There are a couple spaces left if you want to swap. Don’t worry, it’s not too late to make something. I haven’t made my clementine-vanilla bean curd yet, and I am at the OEFFA conference all weekend…