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I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to gardening. This past season was my eighth as an enthusiastic home-farmer. So I’ve made some mistakes. And then tried to not repeat those particular mistakes the next season. We’ve figured out what we actually eat, and tried growing lots of those things. And so there’s now a whole greenhouse dedicated only to tomatoes, because yum! And there’s lots of green kale, cabbage, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, chilies and cucumbers. And celery. And sugar snaps. And pumpkins. And a few other bits and pieces.

One of the first things we learned was that as a hobby farmer you have nothing, followed by an explosive abundance of crops, and then back to nothing again. Which is frustrating. Sure, we pickled, juiced, dried, put stuff in the freezer and gave away to friends and neighbors. We even opened a little roadside veggie stand one year. But still, it can drive you crazy. There’s just way more than you need for such a short amount of time. And after that there’s just the emptiness of longing for next harvest season.

Enter Brigid LeFevre, whom I made a film with recently called Into the Soil. Apart from being an experienced farmer, Brigid is also a master-fermentation-ist (yes, that’s a word!). And after having tried her kimchi and other varieties of fermented veggies, I was hooked!

It turns out that fermenting your vegetables not only retains the nutritional value (even adding nutrition as something called Vitamin K is a byproduct of the fermentation process), it also makes the vegetables keep the whole year, until next year’s crops are ready to be enjoyed.

So, for anyone having vague ideas about being somewhat self-reliant on food, such as I do, I would say growing your own vegetables is only half of the equation. The other half is fermenting them so that you can enjoy them all year round.

Brigid and I made a How-to Video

Fermenting vegetables is surprisingly easy. I know there’s a lot of thick books on the topic, and it can seem a little daunting to get started. But, as demonstrated in this how-to video, starring Brigid herself, it’s actually quite easy. No need to run out and get any special equipment. All you need are some jars, some veggies and some salt. The video shows three recipes, but what it really shows is the basics for making pretty much any kind of vegetable fermentation, based on what’s available in your garden or at your farmer’s market.

This video is in Swedish, even though Brigid is from Ireland. There are subtitles though, so it’s easy to follow even if you don’t understand Swedish.

If you want to dig deeper into Brigid’s recipe-books I recommend her website where she shares a lot of ideas, tips, tricks and recipes.

Happy fermenting!

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