Fermentation Fever- A workshop with Sandor Katz

The Art of Fermentation-

Wild Fermentation

purchase tickets here

Sunday, March 6th
Living Learning Center South, Performance Hall
(1455 East 15th Avenue
University of Oregon, Eugene)
4-7 pm

Come learn how simple it is to make your own kraut, kimchi and other fermented delicacies. Learn about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments, as well as their illustrious history and integral role in human cultural evolution. Empower yourself with simple techniques for fermenting these healthful foods in your home. Be part of the fermentation revival!

We will begin by hearing from Sandor about just what is so artful about fermentation. He will then lead a hands-on workshop where you can learn how to ferment your favorite (or winter appropriate) veggie!

This is a group fermentation workshop. You will be working with a handful of other fermentation enthusiasts to create a tasty, microbial rich concoction.

Please bring the following items to this workshop: 1-2 lbs. of veggies to ferment, cutting board, knife, hand grater, hand towel, and a wide-mouth mason jar with a ring. Home Fermenter in Eugene is generously donating lids with grommet holes and plastic airlocks to help your fermentation process.

Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist. His books Wild Fermentation (2003) and the Art of Fermentation (2012), along with the hundreds of fermentation workshops he has taught around the world, have helped to catalyze a broad revival of the fermentation arts. A self-taught experimentalist who lives in rural Tennessee, the New York Times calls him “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene.” The Art of Fermentation received a James Beard award, and Sandor was honored with the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2014.

Here is a map of the building and where you can find parking! Fermentation Map

FSMA Update – FDA finalizes Food Safety Modernization Act rules

In late 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the long-awaited Food Safety Modernization Act ‘Produce Rule,’ which sets sweeping new standards for growing, packing, harvesting and holding produce for human consumption.

20150610_085130_resizedFriends of Family Farmers joined sustainable and family farm advocates from across the nation to submit comments and provide feedback on the proposed rules during comment periods in 2014 and in face-to-face meetings with FDA staff in 2015. Our message was clear: smaller farms either need to be exempt from onerous new requirements under the rules, or must be able to comply without facing unreasonable costs. The farmers we work with already strive to provide the highest quality, healthiest produce available, and any requirements in the new Produce Rule should be based in science and not put responsible farmers at risk of going out of business.

The Produce Rule is wide ranging, and covers the use of manure and compost on farms; water quality for both irrigation and produce washing; farmworker hygiene; and other possible causes of food-borne illness. While we and others raised many concerns during early comment periods, we did see areas of overall improvement in the final rules. For a detailed analysis of what’s in the final rule, check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog post on the topic. Additionally, the Oregon State University Small Farms Program has put together a run down of key pieces of information in both the Produce Rule and the related ‘Preventative Controls’ rule, which applies to food processing facilities.

While the rules were finalized late last year, many provisions will take time to go into effect, and some farms are exempt all together. So, here’s some things you need to know in the near term:

When do the regulations go into effect? The earliest deadlines for compliance with the Produce Rule are in January 2018, and this deadline applies only to the very largest farms. For farms classified as ‘small businesses’ – meaning they gross less than $500,000 per year on a rolling three year average – compliance begins in January 2019. Additionally, farms of this size can secure a ‘qualified exemption’ if more than 50% of their sales are direct-to-consumer or to restaurants and retail establishments within the same state and not more than 275 miles from the farm. Compliance begins in January 2020 for farms that gross less than $250,000 per year from produce sales on a rolling three year average – these are ‘very small businesses’ as defined by FDA. Farms that gross under $25,000 per year are exempt completely. A full list of exemptions and ‘qualified exemptions’ from FDA, including what crops are covered, can be found here. 

How do farms get prepared for compliance? FDA is still working out the finer points of how farms can comply with certain provisions, and will be working with the Oregon Department of Agriculture on many details. FDA or ODA will likely be putting out more information on compliance as it is developed, but in the meantime, FDA is asking for farmers to submit specific questions or suggestions to their FSMA ‘Technical Assistance Network’ here.

That sounds really vague, what can I be doing now? If you believe your farm qualifies as a ‘small business’, ‘very small business’, or may even be exempt, begin documenting that now and keep good records. The FDA is ultimately going to need you to show them documentation dating back to 2016 to demonstrate how the rule will affect you.

In Oregon, the Oregon Department of Agriculture Food Safety Division ultimately expects there to be ‘thousands’ of farms in the state that have never previously experienced the level of inspection that FSMA will bring. In addition to documenting gross income to assess how the rules apply, many farmers who irrigate will have to test water for pathogens and may have to add filtration systems if their water quality is compromised.

Through our involvement in the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Task Force, Friends of Family Farmers is in a unique position to help provide feedback to ODA on how they approach their responsibilities for FSMA inspections, enforcement, etc. If you have any questions you’d like us to convey to ODA, please email our Policy Director, Ivan Maluski ivan@friendsoffamilyfarmers.org or give us a call.

2015 – The Year in Review

2015 – A Year of Progress and Change for Friends of Family Farmers

We rang in 2015 moving at full speed and our strong and successful advocacy on behalf of Oregon’s socially responsible family farmers continued all year long, with growth in policy advocacy, program development, and community events.

As the 2015 Oregon Legislative Session began, we moved our new office to downtown Salem, just blocks from the State Capitol and state administrative office buildings to allow for more frequent visits to key legislators and decision-makers.

Over 150 farmers, ranchers, and local food advocates on the State Capitol Steps in March 2015, raising our voices on behalf of Oregon’s family farmers.
Over 150 farmers, ranchers, and local food advocates on the State Capitol Steps in March 2015, raising our voices on behalf of Oregon’s family farmers.

On March 30th, we hosted our most successful Family Farmer and Rancher Day at the State Capitol yet, advancing key food and farm priorities to our elected decision-makers and demonstrating the power of the local farm and food movement. We rallied on the Capitol steps and met with nearly all of Oregon’s 90 legislators over the course of the day.

This event was key in helping pass new legislation to support Oregon’s family farmers and a strong local food system. We tracked dozens of bills in Salem in 2015, winning key victories in expanding access to Oregon’s beginning farmer loan program (Aggie Bonds), limiting legal liability for farms engaging in value-added agri-tourism activities, making historic investments in Extension and Agricultural Research programs, and expanding Oregon’s Farm to School program.

We also testified and rallied the public around the growing threats from irresponsible antibiotic use on factory farms, the need for safeguards for farmers threatened with contamination from genetically engineered crops, efforts to promote urban agriculture, and the need for reform of Oregon’s Board of Agriculture.

Over the course of 2015, nearly 1500 FoFF supporters called and sent letters to the Governor and your state legislators throughout the year.

In 2015, we continued our six-year run of monthly InFARMation (and Beer!) educational events in Portland, reaching hundreds of urban residents to talk about how they can support socially responsible family farmers and ranchers in Oregon. We brought several of these events to Bend as well.

FoFF's first Fill Your Pantry - Portland 2015
FoFF’s first Fill Your Pantry – Portland 2015

We also launched our first ever Portland Fill Your Pantry event, featuring 14 local farms who sold over 1,711 pounds of winter squash, 1,380 pounds of grains and beans, 3,851 pounds of storage veggies, and 840 pounds of pasture-raised meats. More than 160 customers made nearly $24,000 in advance bulk purchases from sustainable producers.

Finally, a summary of our 2015 wouldn’t be complete without mention of new staff joining our team.

FoFF staffers in the field – summer 2015

Sarah Peters joined us as our new Executive Director. Kelly Crane came on board in a new position of Rural Organizer. We also hired a new Next Generation Program Organizer Molly Notarianni and Office Manager Katie Engelman.

Ivan Maluski remains on staff as our Policy Director and Erinn Criswell transitioned into our new Urban Organizer position to round out our new team. 

Looking ahead to 2016, we are organizing another round of our farmer listening sessions, starting in the mid-Willamette Valley this year, and visiting all corners of the state early next year. Be sure to check our website for dates in your neck of the woods!

While we expect the short Legislative session in February 2016 to be less action-packed than 2015’s six-month session, we are poised to advocate for small and mid-sized farmers as the Legislature considers what bills to pass.

Our Urban Outreach program is also busy planning events in Bend, Eugene, Salem, McMinnville, and more in 2016. The Next Generation program is covering a lot of territory as well, with events and trainings for new and young farmers around the state, and a launch of our redesigned Oregon Land Link database, iFarm, scheduled for early April.

We look forward to continuing to expand access to and opportunities for local, socially responsible agriculture in Oregon!