Fermentation Fest!

Please RSVP below so we know how many people to expect!





When: Sunday, October 28, 2018

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 $15 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.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here is the 2017 Schedule:

Session 1- 1:00-2:30 pm

Making (Hard) Cider at Home, taught by Mark and Allison 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.

Basic Dairy Ferments, taught by Troy Davis, Troy will lead you through his process of making kefir and chevre using raw milk.

From the Garden to Your Larder, taught by Gentry Laskowski and Arden Jones, Gentry and Arden will lead you on a garden walk, where we will discuss putting up the fall garden. We will harvest the ingredients and then head inside to make a smorgasbord vegetable kraut.

Session 2- 2:35-4:00 pm

Bacteria: Why is it important and what can we do to maintain a harmonious relationship with the bacteria in our lives? Taught by Shannon Weller and Sarah Byas, All diseases begin in the gut. Whether we are lacking awareness or the motivation to change, there are several ways in which imbalanced gut bacteria may be adversely affecting our overall health. Shannon will discuss this theory and ways to reimagine life, diet, and cuisine so that we can creatively shift our habits in a positive and empowering way. Fermentation is a great place to begin this process as fermented foods can simplify meal planning and preparations while also diversifying the nutrients, bacteria, and complexity of flavors readily available in the kitchen. There will be several flavors of ferments to sample!

Keeping and Using a Sourdough Starter, taught by Michael Grantz, This class will cover the fundamentals of keeping and using a sourdough starter. Michael will do several hands-on demonstrations with the starter and talk about nutritional benefits, feeding schedules, different foods for your starter, as well as tricks for making this culture as low-maintenance as possible. We will talk briefly about using the starter in bread making, but the focus of this class will be on understanding, maintaining, and using the sourdough culture itself.

Amateur Charcuterie, taught by 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- 4:35- 6:00 pm

Probiotic Beverages, taught by Gentry Laskowski, Lauren Case, and Ben Stowe, This class will provide step by step instructions for how to create and care for a kombucha SCOBY and soda bug, plus how to use them to bring ordinary teas and juices to bubbling to life.

Brewing Gruits and Other Fun, Wild Home Brews, taught by Mark Angelini, Gruits and wild ales are some of the oldest beers known to humans which rely upon wild and cultivated herbs to flavor and bitter beer. Mark will discuss the basics of brewing beer with minimal kit—using extract malts—and the things to look for when using herbs other than hops to give your beers depth, flavor, interest and healing properties. We’ll even try a few samples of what is possible.


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 Grantz is a self-taught baker and has made sourdough bread on a small commercial scale for 3 years. He and his wife Arden run Great Day Gardens, a market garden and wood-fired bakery based in Forest, VA. As of late, Michael enjoys playing with his puppies, Loki and Freyja, in his spare time.



Gentry Laskowski has been fermenting food for two years, since receiving kefir grains as a wedding gift. Now her favorite things to make are fermented hummus and lemongrass kombucha. She runs Thistle Ridge Farm with her husband, Dylan.
Working mostly with her hands, Shannon Weller is always seeking to learn more about plants, humans, and the overall interconnectedness of all living things. The subtle energies within and around us provide the groundwork of magic that most fascinates her in this world. As such, her time is occupied by herbs, gardens, energy work, muscle testing, yoga, and digging hands into soil or clay.


Lauren Case was first introduced to the magic of fermented foods by a dear friend and mentor. From there she obtained several “kitchen pets” and now views fermented foods as a cornerstone to her family’s health and well being. Her favorite ferments are milk kefir and soda.


Arden Jones is a vegetable gardener and butterfly enthusiast who ferments vegetables the quick and dirty way, and often by accident. She runs Great Day Gardens with her husband Michael.



1st country ham
Daniel is an amatuer farmer, charcuterist, and cook.  He is a professional husband, social worker, worrier, and dog 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).