Fermentation Fest!

Fermentation Fest! is a celebration of fall food preservation held annually in the historic home located on our farm. You can peruse last year’s details below, and be on the lookout for updates about Fermentation Fest! 2020.

When: Sunday, October 27, 2019 1-6 pm

Where: Merrywood Farmhouse at Great Day Gardens- 2261 Thomas Jefferson Road, Forest VA

What: Demonstrations by fermentation enthusiasts. There is no fee for the festival, but we do suggest a $20 donation to go toward the speakers who are donating their time.

What to bring: Your homemade ferments to share (please label with ingredients), cultures to share (SCOBYs, sourdough starter, mothers, bleu cheese mold…), jars to take home ferments, curious minds!

Kids are welcome, to sit in on demonstrations, but please be responsible for your child if they are being disruptive to other people in the workshop. We have lots of space for them to run around outside if they are old enough to be left unattended.

Workshop Schedule

Session 1- 1:00-2:30 pm

Making Natural Dyes from Food Waste, taught by Carolyn Murphy. Carolyn will demonstrate the process of using scraps from your fermenting forays (like onion skins!) to dye cloth. Participants will get the chance to steep their own patches and thread.

Making (Hard) Cider at Home, taught by Mark Angelini, Cider is one of the easiest and most rewarding fermented beverages to make at home! Mark will discuss equipment, apple selection, pressing, and the various basics of the actual fermentation process from yeast to bottling.

Session 2- 2:45-4:15 pm

Vegetable ferments, taught by Katherine Herman of Gathered Threads. This class will provide step by step instructions for how to create and care for vegetable ferments, plus how to use them to bring ordinary side dishes, entrees, and baked goods to life.

Rise Up with Sourdough taught by Michael Grantz of Great Day Gardens. Learn how to make quality artisan bread in your home oven. We will cover sourdough and yeast bread baking without sugar or oil. This class will be especially good for those who have kept a sourdough starter or have some baking experience.

Charcuterie and curing meats with Daniel Key. This will be a talk and demonstration on making your own country ham and prosciutto with information about curing bacon as well.  Daniel will bring some samples of country ham for folks to try and participants will walk away with copies of all the recipes he is using.

Session 3- 4:30- 6:00 pm

Kombuchas for all moods, taught by Nancy Maurelli. This hands on, experiential class will take you through the steps of turning sweetened tea into refreshing probiotic deliciousness. Come prepared to observe, participate, taste, ask questions and share your experience. Please bring container with tight fitting lid if you want to take home a SCOBY (kombucha culture).

Brewing Wild Beer with Jennings Carney of Pen Druid Brewery. Jennings will be discussing the various methods and approaches to beer making and Pen Druid’s use of indigenous yeasts and bacteria for fermentation. Also discussed will be spontaneously fermented and blended beer making and the use of fruits in beer.


Mark Angelini is part craftsman, homesteader, farmer, orchardist, and ecological designer. He has been making fermented foods and beverages of all kinds for just under a decade. He lives in Sedalia, VA with his wife Allison.
Michael is a baker and farmer at Great Day Gardens. He has spent the past 5 years developing his skills in sourdough wood fired baking and, more recently, doing work through Common Grain Alliance to form a network around of local grains in the Mid-Atlantic. In his spare time he listens to history podcasts, wrestles his Australian Shepherds, and plays with fire.
garlic harvest.JPG
Nancy Maurelli loves fermenting (kombucha, yogurt/cheese, bread, wine, veggies); sharing kitchen-skills; and growing for family and CSA in Roanoke City and Montvale VA. An herbalist-in-training, Nancy supports her farming habit by offering serene accommodations at Sister Nettle B&B in lovely Goose Creek Valley.
Daniel is an amatuer farmer, charcuterist (probably not a word), and cook.  He is a professional husband, social worker, worrier, and dad.  His love of delicious, high quality food has drawn him further and further into the world of charcuterie.  His favorite creations so far are rabbit rilletes, home cured country ham, and the one pastrami that got away (haven’t quite been able to duplicate it).  
Carolyn Murphy lives on a steep little hillside in Madison Heights where she grows flowers, tends chickens, and dabbles in all things fiber including spinning, knitting, weaving, and natural dyeing.
of psych-rock band Pontiak, Jennings also started Pen Druid Fermentation with his two younger brothers in 2015 in Rappahannock County where he grew up. Jennings spends most of his time either traveling for music with the band, traveling for beer or just traveling in general tasting fermentables all over the world.   
Sustainable farmer, herbalist, & fermenter, Katherine Herman is founder & owner of Gathered Threads in Nelson County, Va.  Gathered Threads is a small family-based farm focused on the production of medicinal and culinary herbs – fresh, dried (teas, spice blends, bulk herbs), plants, and herbal body products.  We also produce a large selection of fermented vegetables cultures for our outlets (csa, market, events, wholesale).