Seed Swap and Potluck

Let’s save plant diversity–and save money! The Greater Grand Rapids Food System Council invites all area resident gardeners to meet for a Garden Gathering, Seed Swap and Potluck, 5 p,m. Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center, 409 Lafayette S.E 49503. Bring your organic,heirloom or non-gmo seeds and trade them with other local gardeners. The event also includes a potluck, so bring a dish to pass (if you can) and your own place setting.

“I am looking forward to swapping some of my seeds with fellow gardeners, says event organizer, Leslie Powers. “Also, I am excited to connect with people who are also saving seeds and to educate others about the importance of plant diversity and how saving our seeds accomplishes that.”

Leslie also notes that by swapping, you don’t have to buy a whole package of seeds when you only need a few for limited garden space. RSVP to Cynthia Price,  or (231)670-6059.

LINC offers civic engagement opportunities

lincOn Mondays, LINC invites city residents to gather at the LINC Gallery at 5 p.m.,  eat dinner take a 6 p.m. bus to the 6:30 p.m. GRPS school board meeting. On Tuesdays, gather at the LINC Gallery at 5:30 p.m.,  eat dinner take a 6:30 p.m. bus to the 7 p.m. GRPS school board meeting.
Residents taking part  will look at specific action issues that they may want to work on. “It isn’t just attending the meetings for the sake of attending the meetings,” says Stephanie Gingerich, Real Estate Development Director for LINC Community Revitalization Inc. “Although I do think that people’s presence in the audience is a statement in and of itself.”
For information, call LINC at 616-451-9140 and see how you can get involved.

Canning skill-share a fun success! Next one is Nov. 1.

1011141022a“My mother used to can everything, but I never really learned and I even gave away all her canning jars. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
This comment was overheard at OKT’s canning class on Saturday. Co-facilitated by OKT’s cooking coach Ms. Toni and garden coach Jeff Smith, this particular Cook, Eat & Talk session shared how to can applesauce. Every one of the participants said they had never canned anything before, but were excited to learn about the process.
Everyone took part in peeling a cutting up the apples, necessary before cooking them down to make sauce. They made a batch of plain applesauce and one batch with honey and cinnamon. Once all the apples were cut and cooking down, they had an opportunity to talk about the canning process a bit more and discuss techniques for preserving food.
During the discussion, participants were able to enjoy some food that Ms. Toni prepared. This made the conversation about food preparation even more meaningful.
Once the apples cooked down, they put the sauce in jars and did two rounds of hot-bathing, one for the plain and the other for the spiced applesauce. Everyone took a turn at filling jars and then taking the jars out to cool down. Every time one of the jars made a popping sound, people expressed excitement about how quickly the jars were sealing.
By the end of the session, people felt like new friends brought together by great conversation and food. Each participant went home with two pints of canned applesauce. People were so enthused that they gave input on what they might like to learn to can in the November. Suggestions included pickled veggies, pumpkin, apple butter and sweet potatoes. Stay tuned for the next session, which will be held on Saturday, November 1.

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Learn to can at Saturday’s Cook, Eat & Talk!

Cook Eat & Talk presents Preserving the Harvest: Canning
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 11, 2014
Sherman Street Church kitchen
1000 Sherman St. SE 49506

As the food industry separates us farther from the sources of our foods—and the nutrients real food
provides—people seeking more sustainable and healthier mealtimes are taking up the nearly lost art of home
canning. Some of us remember the jars of peaches, pickles and tomatoes lining our grandmother’s pantry shelves. Sadly, others have been brought up on foods jarred, canned, boxed or frozen in factories—and know nothing else.

As the industry’s mouthpiece, the news media has Americans convinced that it’s difficult to cook from scratch and
dangerous to can your own foods. But guess what? It’s easy and it’s safe. You don’t have to worry about those six-syllable food additives poisoning your family. And, canning your own food can save you bushels of money. (That can mean less time working to live and more time working at life.)

Learn how this Saturday, Oct. 11, at OKT’s Cook, Eat & Talk. It takes place from 10 a.m. to noon at Sherman Street Church kitchen, 1000 Sherman St. SE. OKT cooking coach, Toni Scott, will be joined by veteran”canning-man” and OKT garden coach, Jeff Smith. Together, the group will can applesauce and learn canning basics that can be used for any number of produce items.

US Food Sovereignty Alliance recognizes Palestinian and Washington state groups’ work for food justice

Members of UAWC

The US Food Sovereignty Alliance will award its 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) of Palestine and Community to Community Development (C2C) of Bellingham, Washington. The ceremony takes place in Des Moines on Oct. 15 and recognizes both organization’s courage and commitment to community-led efforts to end injustice in their communities. US Food Sovereignty Alliance notes that these groups both advocate for communities whose human rights to food, land and life are in constant violation.

UAWC works with farming and fishing families in Palestine’s occupied West Bank and Gaza. UAWC, a Palestinian small farmers’ movement, was formed in response to the socio-political conditions that Palestinian farmers were facing and now continue to face. Because of Israeli occupation policies, Palestinian farmers are unable to sell produce at markets, cannot access the sea to fish, and face the confiscation and destruction of their land and water to make way for illegal settlements. Besides working for recognition of Palestinians’ rights to food, UAWC also builds solutions in the communities, from seed banks to cooperatives to extension services for farmers, works for the rights of women, and coordinates humanitarian relief.

C2C works with indigenous Mexican immigrant farm worker communities in Washington State. It is “led by women of color that have lived the reality that U.S. history reveals; that people of color, women, and poor and low income communities have been excluded from the promise of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ so eloquently expressed in our great country’s Declaration of Independence.” In particular, C2C works with migrant farm worker communities in Washington State whose families are indigenous to Mexico with deep agricultural traditions. They are using their skills, knowledge, and culture to produce food for the U.S., but face the structural violence of deportation, detention, firings, and poverty and whose rights to food, land, freedom, and respect are constantly violated.Both organizations are being honored for their work to reclaim their human right to food through food sovereignty, the democratic recognition of full human rights, and for their commitment to the leadership of those most impacted by the policies that produce hunger.

“These organizations represent communities fighting for their rights and against the forces that make their struggles invisible. The Food Sovereignty Prize shows how food sovereignty is the path toward a just society,” said Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition, member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance.

By honoring these two distinguished organizations, the US Food Sovereignty Alliance and its 32 member organizations reaffirm that food sovereignty is the solution to end structural inequality and violence expressed in hunger and poverty and debunk the myth that growing more food will end hunger. “The honorees of this year’s Food Sovereignty Prize should remind people that, as the farm labor leader Cesar Chavez said, ‘Our struggle is not about grapes or lettuce, it is about people,’” said Alison Cohen, WhyHunger, member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. “This year’s honorees also remind us that hunger exists because of an unjust food system that denies communities their basic human right to food, land and a living wage, not because people don’t know how to grow crops or aren’t working.”

With a handful of international agribusinesses controlling 75 percent of the world’s seeds, 20 percent of the world’s food retail, and over 50 percent of the world’s livestock, the almost 1 billion people that the United Nations estimates to be hungry are suffering because their livelihoods as food producers are in constant threat by land and water grabs and the corporate consolidation of seeds and fishing rights – not because the world isn’t producing enough food. “The goal of the Food Sovereignty Prize is to elevate the issue of self-determination and to bring public attention to grassroots struggles defending community autonomy. We all need to express our opposition to violent military occupation and corporate resource grabbing whether it occurs in Haiti, Palestine or Tanzania, as well as closer to home in south central Los Angeles, Detroit, or indigenous territories across the Great Lakes. These critical social justice and human rights issues are quite ignored by the ‘powers that be’ which created the World Food Prize,” said John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, a member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance.

The USFSA represents a network of food producers and labor, environmental, faith-based, social justice and anti-hunger advocacy organizations. Additional supporters of the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize include Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – Des Moines, Occupy the World Food Prize, and the Small Planet Fund, along with media sponsor EcoWatch.

The Food Sovereignty Prize ceremony will be held on October 15th in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Iowa Historical Building at 7 pm Central Time. For more information about the ceremony, event updates and registration, background on food sovereignty and the Food Sovereignty Prize winners, visit Also, visit the Food Sovereignty Prize on Facebook ( and join the conversation on Twitter (#foodsovprize).