RHA Residents Learning to Make Natural Products

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- We spend hundreds of dollars a year on lotions, lip balms, and body scrubs. Now we can buy those from a local group made by women in one of Rockford's housing projects, but the group called Swag and Sweetness is about more than making a profit.

"Oh this turned out good. I like that smell," Kierra Bullock said.

Kierra Bullock is learning how to make tea.

"I’ve actually learned a lot of different stuff," she said.

Every week Bullock and her friends at the Blackhawk Courts Housing Complex learn to make something new at the Natural Swag and Sweetness class. Many times their creations are made with items grown in their own garden.

"It’s kind of like my first time actually in cooking and experimenting on stuff," Bullock explained.

The classes are hosted by the Rockford Housing Authority, Blackhawk Buddy House, and Angelic Organics Learning Center.

So far the group has made body butter, scrubs, and lip balm. The idea is to show these women ways to save and possibly make money.

"We may pursue how to turn it into a more commercial situation and of course it's fun, it could provide jobs and of course it provides a chance to use what we grow in our earth," Katie Townsend, an Urban Educator with Angelic Organics Learning Center, said.

To some, like Courtney Aldridge, the Swag and Sweetness group is as much about friendship as it is learning how to make natural products.

"You get to know each other and you get to know more about people than you usually do that way you come as a community and help out," Aldridge said.

Right now Swag and Sweetness sells their products at the farmers market at Blackhawk Courts. This is a pilot program which wraps up at the end of this month. If the residents like the program it will pick up again next year.

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