Before we became an official business we took a (second) trip down to Tennessee in the fall of 2012 to further immerse ourselves into the science and practice of making traditionally fermented foods with Sandor Katz . Sandor is considered the "Johnny Appleseed" of the fermentation revival. We have been glued to his books since his first zine came out, which led to the book: Wild Fermentation and in spring of 2012 became the James Beard award-winning tome; The Art of Fermentation.
We were beyond excited to go and incredibly grateful for the time, space and resources to be able to do so.
Our time with Sandor (along with the incredibly smart and interesting people that shared the experience!) changed our life path. Engaged in nothing but fermentation, communal meals and discussion, with farm visits to the Barefoot Farmer; solidified that we needed to bring our love and growing knowledge of fermentation to a larger audience. We had already been scheming about some sort of food biz, but we were not sure which way to go; farming, food processing, both? What was needed in our community? The ride home was filled with what to do next, so we did what anyone obsessed with food and fermentation would do, ferment everything! Quickly our kitchen and living room filled up with vessels fermenting away, and you could hear near constant pops, gurgles and sizzles from the aliveness. As former teachers (fine art and photo) and inspired by Sandor's "Choppers Choice" approach we started teaching workshops in our home. Mostly with people who we came to know through our community garden in our Baltimore neighborhood. We grew so much food that we had enough to feed the families involved (about 20 at the time), donate to Our Daily Bread and have leftovers for teaching food preservation techniques; we taught canning, fermenting, freezing and dehydrating. Participants contributed to our classes with meals they made with ingredients from the garden. Very quickly people grew increasingly interested in the role of fermented foods in our diets, the plethora of health benefits and above all the taste and way it made them feel. They were interested in learning how to ferment for themselves, but mostly they wanted to know, "Can we just buy your ferments?"
And just like that, the following morning we awoke to our first order taped to our front door...
Main Photo: Microbe mural, by artist Noah Church. Wall located within The School for Wild Fermentation, fall 2011.
Middle: Sandor Katz with the barrel of kraut we made, and a leg of venison he was curing, fall 2012
Bottom: Learning to bottle mead at The School for Wild Fermentation, fall 2012