For Meg Chamberlain, CEO of Fermenti Foods, patience is a tool of the trade. For months she held out hope that the WNC Fermentation Festival she founded four years ago could take place this year as planned on Nov. 1.
But when it became clear that the daylong event — which has traditionally featured classes, workshops, demonstrations and tastings — could not be safely produced and that insurance costs for even a scaled-down fest would be prohibitive, she did the ubiquitous COVID-19 dance we’re all now intimately familiar with: The Pivot.
“The two main reasons for the festival were to raise money for the Beacon of Hope food pantry in Madison County and to support our local fermentation community,” Chamberlain says. “Instead, I’m going to set up a GoFundMe account for Beacon of Hope, and for the other element, I decided to put together a CSA-type box of fermented foods and beverages for people to buy and enjoy.”
Chamberlain purchased products from 16 festival vendors wholesale and will package them and sell the entire box with no markup for $80 — a $40-$60 discount from the retail cost, she says. Items include smoked pepper and salt Hempeh from Smiling Hara Tempeh, raspberry vinegar from Raspberry Fields, coconut milk kefir from Dare Vegan Cheese, chickpea miso from Miso Master, kimchi from Fermenti and 1 pound of fresh ginger from Rayburn Farm.
“I hope this goes so well that we can do a holiday box later this year,” says Chamberlain. “We look forward to coming back strong in 2021.”
Deadline to order is Monday, Oct. 26, with pickup Sunday, Nov. 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Center, 258 Carolina Lane, Marshall. To learn more, visit avl.mx/8ji.