One interesting perspective on illness is that the very root of all of it comes from taking what you want without regard. The regard aspect probably refers to the inevitable space left behind from the taking. And the illness is likely the result of the imbalance that space causes, and how one ecosystem becoming unbalanced ultimately multiplies this vulnerability across our interwoven landscape.
If taking creates a debt, then repayment is fostering things back to balance afterwards.
The encouragement of microbes in our bodies and in the external ecosystem seem to be great examples of repaying the debt of being alive. Ironically, the debt will ultimately be collected anyway as the many microbes inside us and out who are greatly responsible for us being alive will invariably consume our curious, hard-working bodies after we've parted.
Not sure how many people know this but Ferment Pittsburgh has foremost been a farm. It took some time to get there but eventually it was obvious that to know fermentation began in the ground. Not everyone in today's wild world can be a farmer, so the intent has been to uncover and contribute that soil-born fermentation perspective with our community.
And what a journey its been to tirelessly cultivate what fermentation is, integrating the earth-and-muscle collaboration to grow things from the ground, amidst the four flowing seasons, and transform them in the home as we felt the sensation that we, our flesh and all, was literally made of the nutrients of that ground we worked, and the technologies of food preservation was keeping with the greater pulse of the world around us. The goal has always been for all of the techniques that we share to be real living processes that are integrated into everyday parts of our lifestyle so we might translate them to others into useful, connected ways that are easier to integrate into the routine of everyday life. It's a cultivation of traditions, a practice much slower than Youtube, which can act like a natural fertilizer regiment to ones life that yields an abundance of healing.
Some farms farm money, we farmed food, and found it to be a gateway to seeing the true give and take as opposed to profit and loss. There is a world of difference. The food was grown with the intent of imparting enough real and metaphorical microbes to inoculate the hearts of our community to also ferment. A fermenting heart is by nature a giving heart.
Sometimes ferments get stuck. They get stinky, sour, and unfamiliar. I saw it happen this year. I watched a heart get stuck and become rotted by greed and selfishness as an already land-plentiful herbalist oddly transformed from friend to ruthless conqueror, forcefully taking more for themselves and leaving us with nothing. For the first time, our journey to glean what we can learn about a life connected with the earth to share with our community has been significantly challenged. We have been given the boot, kicked to the curb against our will, and no longer have a farm.
Someone who takes without regard doesn't create medicine, they make more illness.
The land that held us infused us with hard-earned dirt-wisdom from which the Pittsburgh Fermentation Festival and all of our workshops and educational events and art and weirdness germinated. Thank you to everyone who ever joined us to helped sow, weed, dig, pick, and get to know this generous land that hosted us and our family of seeds. Leaving feels like the loss of an essential organ. Thank you to the land for letting us play on your rolling back of fertile possibilities.Thank you for helping us to learn how to give back to lives beyond just our own human ones.
Not too long ago my sourdough starter took a turn for the worst. It built up a surface mold rich and colorful. The smell was rough. Having this starter for many years and through many great adventures I tried to salvage its legacy by stealing a teensy speck to reconstitute into a new one. After several attempts the mold and smell persisted, coming on faster even than the starter could leaven. Then flies somehow found a pin-sized hole in the lid. Things change, after some internal wrestling of emotions I said goodbye.
The next day I embarked on a new starter, mixing fresh flour and water. In my autumn 65 degree house, only a mere maybe four hours and zero refreshes later the new starter was somehow vibrant with life and ready for a bake.
One thing I learned while being farmed by our now former land was the notion: Rather than conquer what you want, isn't it better to nourish what you love so that you can be conquered by watching it grow and flourish?
The ground has finally frosted. Check out our simple clay-making tutorial to get your clay for indoor playing this winter before the soil gets too frozen. And with the weather now cool, we share a lo-tech incubation strategy.
Thanks for allowing space for this moment, next week- back on track with bagels.