Cultivating Culture with Cabbage

If fermented vegetables are part of your diet, you may have already discovered FinAllie Ferments in the refrigerated section of the Market. This small, woman-owned company makes Vermont-style sauerkraut and kimchi using traditional fermentation processes. Thank you to Allie for taking the time to share her farming (and kimchi-making) story with us.

(New to fermented veggies? We hope this article inspires you to give them a try! They’re packed with probiotics, which have been shown to support immune function, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation.)

 

Q. You spent a number of years traveling around the country and working on farms before moving to Vermont. What sparked your interest in farming?

A. My number one goal when I graduated from art school in 2010 was to find inspiration through organic farming and learn more about what it takes to grow the food that I consume on a regular basis. So I packed my friends CRV full of tools and art supplies and my backpack, and we traveled around the country for around three years and helped farmers, working everywhere from Florida to Washington, including Texas, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Vermont.

Q. Why did you decide to settle in Vermont?

A. Vermont had the most incredibly supportive community and true connection to local food, so I parked it here to deepen my connection with the soil and seasonal shifts in the Green Mountains.

Q. How did you become interested in fermenting?

A. I learned on this nomadic migratory farming experience how to make kimchi and sauerkraut. When I arrived on a new farm that was the first thing I would make if there were surplus veggies, because value-added foods are a great income source for farmers and there are always ugly (not market worthy) or surplus veggies kickin’ around.

 

Q. We’d love to hear about the evolution of FinAllie. How did it move from an idea to a business?

A. Vermont had probably one or two fermenters in 2012, and they were up north in the Glover area. So I started fermenting out of a farm kitchen in Windham and selling my bubbly pickles and spicy radishes at the farmers’ market in Townshend, along with tinctures and smoothies.

Q. Who’s Fin (in FinAllie)?

A. My dog Fin and I became a duo when I was working on a farm in Washington and a litter of pups was born on my birthday in October. The farm wanted to pay me for a month of work but due to low income that season I decided to choose a big fat baby Labrador instead. Fin traveled with me, because he is a sweet boy, and this magic farm pup became my mascot!

Q. Can you tell us a little about your farm and your farming methods?

A. Currently I live in West Townshend; my farm is called GoodLight pollinator sanctuary. My partner Nate and I started our first apple trees in 2014. Since then we built an off-grid house, put in two orchards and a nut tree grove, planted hundreds of berries and chestnuts, and started using animals as lawnmowers and tillers for our veggie gardens. We are a low-till farm; we practice organic and biodynamic methods only. We grow our own chickens for eggs and meat with extra to share with our family and neighbors. We play music for our plants and bring our family in to help put love back into the soil.

 

Q. What makes FinAllie products unique or special?

A. I think what makes FinAllie unique and special is community. We buy our veggies from over 10 different Vermont organic farms. We pay these farmers in the winter before the veggies are growing through our own CSA program to help support our farmers at a time of year when they need income. We also ferment our foods in oak barrels or handmade ceramic crocks. This gives an amazing flavor and avoids the off flavors and unknown leaching imparted by plastic barrel fermented foods.

Q. Your motto is “Cultivating Culture.” Can you explain what that means to you?

A. Our motto Cultivating Culture means to me GROW YOUR MICROBIOME!!! Another word in the fermentation library is “culture” to culture—the act of imparting specific bacteria to help aid in the fermentation process. Growing food, fermenting it, and enlivening your body’s good bacteria is essential to optimal health!

For more info: finallieferments.com.

 

Local food nourishes us, supports our families, builds community, and benefits our environment.  Local Food Is Love. We are so fortunate in Vermont to have access to such a wide variety of foods made and grown by neighbors we know and trust. This is what Local Food Is Love is all about. Every summer we celebrate the local growers and producers who enhance our lives and communities in countless ways. Stay tuned for more stories about these amazing people and the unique and delicious foods they bring to our tables.

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