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Fort Wayne woman tries to cultivate community around homemade goods

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What is a food swap?
The Food Swap Network defines a swap as "a recurring event in which members of a community get together and share homemade, homegrown or foraged foods with one another. Swaps allow attendees to make direct trades."

What do you bring to a food swap?
Anything from canned jams and veggies to homemade baked goods. The possibilities are unlimited.

What are the rules?
Make sure to bring enough items to swap with other people. You can only swap as many items as you bring. There is no money involved in the food swap.

When is the food swap?
From 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday at 509 Community, 509 E. State St., Huntington.
One will take place Aug. 18 at Wunderkammer, 3402 Fairfield Ave.in Fort Wayne.

Watch out for more details on the Fort Wayne swap at Facebook page.

Northeast Indiana Food Swap holds first event in Huntington

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 12:01 am

It all started when Mary Willems-Akers looked into her basement. She had shelves stocked with jars of jam — jars upon jars of jam.

That’s when the lightbulb went off.

“Originally, I wanted to come up with something like a canning collective. But when I started to look at things online, I saw that there was this whole food swap movement,” she said. “People want to know where their food comes from.”

That’s when she began organizing the Northeast Indiana Food Swap. She knew there were people interested in unloading some extra produce or canned goods. But she never expected to see people be shy about their homemade goods.

“People were wondering if what they have made was good enough for a swap or if it was worthwhile enough to go through,” she said. “It can be intimidating to try anything new, but if you’re there, you love food and others have similar interest. It’s very welcoming.”

The Food Swap Network defines a swap as “a recurring event in which members of a community get together and share homemade, homegrown or foraged foods with one another. Swaps allow attendees to make direct trades, for example, a small loaf of bread for a jar of pickles or a half-dozen backyard eggs.”

The swap will last an hour. The first 20 minutes are for set up, the next 20 minutes are browsing and the last 20 minutes are for swapping. Samples are encouraged but not required.

Amy Griffin, a participant in the first NEI Food Swap and a Barr Street Market regular, said after attending Indy Food Swappers, her cooking has changed dramatically.

People are not only sharing their recipes, but also their abundance of goodies. It’s a chance for me to have fun in the kitchen and to see if people responded to my creations,” she said. “Food swaps offer a huge variety. My refrigerator is filled with Ball jars.”

Willems-Akers said the event is for the average person. Many times when cooking, people have a lot left over; rather than letting it sit on a shelf or go bad, Willems-Akers encourages people to share it at the swap.

“You get what you take. If I only take 10 swap items with me and there are 12 swappers, than I’m only able to swap those 10 items,” she said. “There is no money exchange. You don’t have to pay to register, you don’t have to pay to attend, you don’t have to pay for a table, so really we are just a group of friends exchanging homemade goods.”

All foods are prepared in home kitchens — food safety is not guaranteed.

For more information on our group go visit the Facebook page.

For more information on the food swap movement check out Food Swap Network

The Purdue Cooperative Extension offers food preservation courses, find out more information by visiting the website.

Any other questions or concerns? Contact swap coordinator Mary Willems-Akers, at neifoodswap@gmail.com.