Activating communities: Fermentation fever in Hastings.

In 2015, Octopus Alchemy held a fermentation workshop at a vegan cafe in St Leonard’s – A year on, we catch up with Scott Garrett to talk about his workshop experience and the impact it’s had on his own practice and local community.

What is your name?

Scott Garrett of Hastings Fermentory

Scott Garrett of Hastings Fermentory

Scott Garrett.

What attracted you to the workshop with Octopus Alchemy?

I had been reading more and more about lacto-fermention on a few blogs I read like Root Simple (an urban homesteading blog) and had just discovered Sandor Katz. I had an old book on preserving but it looked like a long and laborious process of brine and skimming etc, but these new posts seemed like it was much simpler. The workshop popped up and i thought it would be great to actually prove that it was and just to make sure i wasn’t missing anything!

Did the workshop play out as you expected it to?

It did all that and more, giving me a much more rounded understanding and practical grounding in fermented foods, bacteria and their health benefits. Most importantly it gave me the confidence to just get on with it!

How do you feel that the workshop experience changed your perspective on health and nutrition?

I had been struggling with a condition for several years, diagnosed as Fibromyalgia (which I’m still not sure about, but it seemed close enough!) with chronic fatigue and depression. I hoped maybe it might magically restore me (it hasn’t yet, sadly). It was also at a time that we were assessing our eating habits and had also decided to go wheat free. A lot of things were being looked at food wise and the workshop definitely helped focus me on this. With dropping wheat and eating lots of ferments I lost 2 stones in a year. It wasn’t my aim at all, but it proved to me that something crucial was changing. My gut was noticeably changed – without going into detail, i knew!

'Hastings Fermentory' held their first workshop just last week :)

‘Hastings Fermentory’ held their first workshop just last week 🙂

In a sentence, could you sum up the social value of the work of Octopus Alchemy?

The social value of these workshops is invaluable – they show how fermenting is as much about social change and a new politics of looking after and nourishing each other, as it is thinking about where food comes from and what we are putting into our bodies

What were the tangible effects of your workshop experience? Are you doing anything differently now? Any exciting projects underway?

Not only am I now making ferments, as part of a regular routine, I’m also sharing them with friends and encouraging them to start their own. This lead me to eventually start a Facebook group, Hastings Fermentory, for local fermenting in and around Hastings. I’m now about to do my first workshop, hopefully i can start someone else on the path to a lifetime of fermenting and better health!

You can read other testimonials about OA Workshops here and here.

If you’d like to support our work – check out our schedule of future workshops in Brighton and beyond here.

Or – skip directly over to eventbrite to book onto our next workshop in Brighton on September 18th.

 

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‘More than a workshop on kimchi – it speaks to the politics of food, access & inequalities too.’

Over the next month of our crowdfunding, we’ll be checking in with people who have been to one of our workshops and drawing on some of their experiences to help illustrate the benefits of supporting our work. Below we speak to Aidan who came to one of our workshops in July.

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Aidan 🙂

What is your name?

Aidan McGarry.

What attracted you to the workshop with Octopus Alchemy?

I wanted to learn more about the politics of food. I am into cooking and enjoy knowing about different aspects of taste and production. I knew the workshop would educate me on a topic I knew little about.

Did the workshop play out as you expected it to?

Yes the workshop played out as I had hoped and expected. I appreciated the theoretical background to fermentation: ‘the science part’. If we didn’t have this underpinning it would feel as though something was missing.

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Octopus Alchemy at the Coniston Institute.

How do you feel that the workshop experience changed your perspective on health and nutrition?

What I really enjoyed about the workshop was how it changed my knowledge and understanding of health and nutrition. I think everyone should understand about the health benefits of fermentation. But more than that there is a clear social value to it too. As issues around food waste and inequalities become more pronounced workshops like this make people aware of what they are eating and why. The fact that it tastes good is a bonus.

Why should people support Octopus Alchemy’s crowdfunding campaign?

People should support Octopus Alchemy’s crowd funding because it is an excellent idea created by someone who is extremely passionate and knowledgeable of a topic which concerns us all. It is more than how to make kimchi (although that is a great reason to run a workshop!) as it speaks to the politics of food, access and inequalities.

 You can read another testimonial about OA workshops here.

Octopus Alchemy:

Activating communities. Reducing Waste. Creating superfood.

We believe that to ferment is a radical political act, the effects of which reverberate beyond the kitchen. Back our fermentation-based, waste-reducing project in Brighton & Hove of ‘Transforming Food Waste into Superfood’ and support us in continuing to have a creative impact on our local food culture and beyond.

Check out our wicked incentives. No donation to small. If you can’t spend, then please share.

 

 

Fermentation workshop @ Silo, Brighton: Monday 25th May / 6.30PM.

On Monday, May 25th @ 6.30pm, Silo and Octopus Alchemy are teaming up to deliver a food-fermentation workshop. Come along and seize your chance to gain loads of great practical knowledge on fermentation and the incredible healing properties of live food, and also learn some about the history and context behind the demise of traditional foods and practices like fermentation in the industrialised world.

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Fermentation in action @ Foodshed, Brighton.

You’ll get the opportunity to do some creative hands-on fermenting at the restaurant, with ingredients sourced by us depending on their season and availability. You get to take home a batch of whatever is made too, with the rest being served up at Silo once it’s fizzing suitably some weeks later.

Alongside some other wild ferments (sauerkraut / saueruben) and beverages (sweet potatoe fly), specifically this week we’ll be looking at an authentic recipe for kimchi: the potent Korean staple that has become a global fascination (check out an amazing introduction to kimchi, here). True to the principles of localism and sustainability, we’ll also look at adapting the recipe to fit what ingredients are in season and more readily available to us. Further, Nick Godshwa from the Old Tree Coop will be providing a short introduction and demonstration of the fermented beverages, kombucha and kefir. 

Kimchi ingredients.

Kimchi ingredients.

The event runs for approximately two hours and is priced at £15 which should be paid in advance. There are some concessions available. The workshop is limited to twenty people, so please remember to book.

To book, please email octopusalchemy@gmail.com

If you have any spare jars knocking around at home, bring them in and make sure you get to take some of your creation home with you! Otherwise, any spare jars knocking around at home will be very welcome by the restaurant.

What to expect:

  • 40min introduction to the politics of fermented foods and their health benefits.
  • A short introduction and demonstration of the fermented beverages, kombucha and kefir by our friend Nick Godshwa at The Old Tree Coop.
  • Demonstration of four different ferments.
  • A chance to experiment with different versions of sauerkraut and kimchi in a practical exercise.
  • Take a portion home with you!
  • A chance to taste and buy some pre-made kimchi.
  • A bloody good time.
Explaining digestive tonics @ Silo, Brighton.

Explaining digestive tonics @ Silo, Brighton.

A little bit about your host: Octopus Alchemy is a social venture in Brighton that talks food-politics and traditional foods. It is run by Darren Ollerton: a food-activist, blogger and bodyworker living in Brighton. You can see testimonials about OA workshops here.