Green-fingered mum's 'food swop' grows out of a love for good grub

Swap: apples, eggs and jam, home made wine or beer

IT'S the latest green foodie trend and this weekend it's coming to Northern Ireland.

Tomorrow east Belfast mum-of-one Alex Tennant will be throwing open her home to a group of strangers she met on Facebook.

The only thing they all have in common is their love of growing and cooking their own produce.

Alex says she has been interested in growing and cooking her own food for a while, but this summer heard about the Apples for Eggs movement and decided to set up Belfast's first 'Food Swop'.

The idea is that everyone brings along an item that they've lovingly grown, baked or cooked and swaps it for something else – a great way to deal with gluts that can sometimes make a rewarding hobby monotonous.

You can exchange a few apples for a dozen eggs or even a pot of strawberry jam.

Alex says she has been growing veg since she and her husband Colin and son Finn (8) moved to a house with a garden. She also has an interest in making jams.

"I love making food, but my husband and son don't necessarily eat it!" she says.

"It's nice if you're making 10 pots of jam to be able to swap them for something else.

"I heard about the food swap movement in the States and then I heard about Apples for Eggs in England. I wasn't sure if people would be interested but a month ago I started a Facebook page suggesting a get-together to see if people were interested and I have had 300 likes.

"At this point I'm looking forward to it, to see what happens." Alex says she has been growing blackberries, raspberries, asparagus, potatoes and beans in the garden and is contemplating clearing back some of the wilder bits of the garden to create an area for chickens.

"I've always been interested in food myself and I like the idea of being able to have some level of food production and sustainability," she said.

The only thing that Alex will be holding back – because she's not sure it is quite at the right quality yet – is the home-brewed beer.

"In the past I've made wine from forage, such as elderberry. I've also made dandelion wine, which is 18%!" she says.

The date is published in advance on the Belfast Food Swop page: www.facebook.com/belfast foodswop. Interested people sign up – then the day before the event, Alex releases the address.

BACKGROUND

The Food Swap Network was launched in America a few years ago and has really picked up momentum. In Europe, the movement is led by the UK, where Apples for Eggs has been set up by Vicky Swift and Sue Jewitt, former producers on Footballers' Wives. Participants bring anything they have grown, raised or produced themselves and exchange them for other cooks and growers' produce, signing in and marking up their wares to show what ingredients they contain.

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