Fermenting Vegetables: Fruitful Collaboration

Fermenting Vegetables: Fruitful Collaboration

The Chef’s Garden and Ismail Samad of Wake Robin Foods have formed a delectable partnership that will help to reduce food waste in delicious ways.

At a high level, here’s the recipe:

  • Ingredient #1: Vegetables regeneratively grown with love—ones where we’ve grown more than will be consumed or ones that don’t look perfect but are filled with flavor and nutrition
  • Ingredient #2: Wake Robin Foods’ special fermentation process that adds flavor to the vegetables and preserves nutrients in the safest way possible while adding vitamins through the work of the lactic acid fermenting bacteria
  • Ingredient #3: Distribution channels of The Chef’s Garden and Wake Robin Foods to bring these tasty jars of goodness to you and your family

“I’ve been involved  in zero food waste projects  for quite a while,” says Ismail who is also cofounder of The Gleanery restaurant in Putney Vermont. “When I moved back to the Cleveland area, my non profit organization Loiter East Cleveland fortuitously acquired Wake Robin Foods, and then needed to work with like-minded people to reduce farm waste. We needed to collaborate with people who could accelerate our efforts to create a scalable and intentional closed loop food company. In addition we were looking for seasoned farmers who already wanted to intentionally reduce waste within their operation and were interested in creating a model that can be duplicated—and I’m happy to be working with The Chef’s Garden to do exactly that.”

Farmacy Director Amy Sapola at The Chef’s Garden is equally as excited. “This allows us to more fully utilize everything we’ve worked so hard to grow, using it at its best and fullest potential. Even the glass jars that Wake Robin uses to package their fermented vegetables are recyclable and reusable. I use mine to store homemade peanut butter, and the possibilities are endless.”

The first vegetable from The Chef’s Garden being fermented: cucumbers. After that, numerous possibilities exist—from okra to peppers to cabbage, carrots, beets and more. “Most vegetables can be fermented,” Ismail explains. “There needs to be an approved process for ingredients being used, but there are so many opportunities when you’re willing to be creative.”

More About the Collaboration

The Chef’s Garden actually spoke to a few companies about fermenting vegetables as a partnership, and Amy and Culinary Vegetable Institute Chef Jamie Simpson both saw Wake Robin as the best fit.

This collaboration allows the farm to reduce food waste and we’ll be able to provide deliciously healthy offerings as special edition fermented products on the Farmer Jones Farm website and at the farm stand.

“Here’s another beautiful thing,” adds Amy, “one going beyond the amazing health benefits of this collaboration. We’re able to support another small business that’s doing amazing work. Wake Robin Foods affects the lives of plenty of people in positive ways, providing jobs and supporting Loiters’ broader economic justice goals as well as providing habitually excluded communities with access to nourishing foods. As Ismall brings up, underserved populations are often given calorically dense, highly processed foods that are actually nutritionally void. This collaboration is a huge difference maker.”

As for Ismail, he notes how his company’s mission is to create a model of reducing food waste in flavorful ways, one that can be extended and scaled up.

“I want to show models that work,” he says, “collaborating with willing partners to explore possibilities, and then to market what we’ve created. With this fermentation project, you have two groups of people with shared values. The result will be our combined ability to provide healthy food to people by extending crops’ seasons and expanded reach through our combined distribution channels—and I’m excited to work alongside The Chef’s Garden as we explore solutions to solve a significant problem.”

To learn more about Chef Ismail you can listen to our recent podcast episode with him.

Available Now

Our Garlicky Dill Pickles are available in the December/January Eat The Rainbow Box and will be available online and at Farmer Jones Farm Market in January.

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