By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 16, 2024 at 11:16 AM

For six years running, Mallory Meadows, a family-owned and Veteran-run micro-farm in Eagle, Wisconsin, has partnered with a local business to host an annual event honoring National Seed Swap Day.

This year, they’re stepping things up yet another notch thanks to support from the UW-Extension Milwaukee County, Wild Ones, and Ope! Brewing.

Guests are invited to join the farm for a Mini Market and Seed & Plant Exchange on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Ope! Brewing Co., 6751 W. National Ave. in West Allis.

During the event, guests can enjoy beer or hard seltzer from Ope! Brewing while swapping seeds or plants, learning about sustainable home gardening and purchasing locally grown or made goods from vendors.

What to expect

Mallory Meadows will bring their seed bank full of garden seeds, along with books, seed catalogs and gardening expertise to share. Additional vendors will also be present to exchange seeds and plants or sell locally grown and made goods. 

Vendors will include: 

  • Aurora Farm & Gardens: microgreens for purchase
  • Ourganic Farm: farm fresh eggs and sauerkraut
  • Soap Passion: handmade soaps and preserved goods
  • Author Lori Fredrich: selling and signing copies of her “Wisconsin Field to Fork: Farm Fresh Recipes from the Dairy State” cookbook
  • Wild Ones / Milwaukee Southwest Wehr Chapter: native plant resources (Learn more about how to use native plants in your home to protect biodiversity, improve air and water quality, and provide wildlife with quality food and shelter without the use of excess irrigation, pesticides or herbicides).  
  • UW-Extension Milwaukee County Urban Agriculture Program: seeds and growing resources

Guests who actively save seeds are invited to bring their seed stores to exchange with others at the event. In addition, guests can also bring propagated cuttings, baby plants or full-grown house plants to exchange for something new.

No seeds? You can still drop by to pick up seeds for your garden!

“We try to make sure no one leaves us empty-handed,” notes Erica Mallory, who co-owns Mallory Meadows and the mobile food business EZ Tiki, with her husband Zach. “Our goal every year is to get people excited and feeling adventurous to grow things in their gardens and hopefully relieve a little of the burden of bringing food into a household”.

At the end of the event, any remaining seeds collected will be donated to the West Allis Public Health Department for them to disseminate to households in need. 

More about Mallory Meadows

“If a barrier to growing can be reduced we are thrilled and it helps that the health department sees the value in growing and producing food,” Erica notes, explaining that the foundations of  Mallory Meadows grew up from knowledge she gleaned during hard times.

“I was a single mom living in subsidized housing, utilizing food banks and food support programs. Trying to produce healthy meals for myself and my kids within a budget was a struggle,” she says, noting that she would often rely on local farmers markets as both a free activity to occupy her children as well as an affordable way to supplement their pantry.

From there, she says, she began to learn to container garden. It was a skill that allowed her to engage her entire family in growing their food. 

When the Mallorys started their farm on nearly four acres, they continued to employ methods that allowed them to grow a substantial amount of crops on just a small plot of land. This included techniques like companion planting, crop rotation, mulching and supporting pollinators and beneficial insects to assist in chemical-free farming. In addition, they use composting and no-till methods to steward and enrich the soil as they plant their seeds. 

Over the years, the Mallorys have also expanded their business to include offering locally grown foods, including seasonal fire-roasted corn, loaded baked potatoes and hand-pressed honey lemonade through their mobile food business, EZ Tiki, which makes regular stops at beer gardens and community events like the West Allis Farmers Market’s Food Truck Fridays.

“We are proud of our state and what we can grow and produce,” notes Erica. “We want people to have the same satisfaction and pride as they grow produce in their own yards.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.