Freestone Fermentation Festival Recap & People’s Kombucha Awards Winners!

The Freestone Fermentation Festival was off the hook! From the Symposium and Feast on Friday night to the amazing turn-out of nearly 1100 fermentation lovers on Saturday, the entire event was packed with creative energy from start to finish.

Friday Symposium

Michael Stusser introduces the Symposium panel guest speakers - Jenny McGruther, Sandor Katz & Charlie Bamforth

The Symposium was held at the Shone Farm on the Santa Rosa Junior College Campus.  Michael Stusser, the festival’s founder and owner of Osmosis Spa famous for their cedar enzyme bath, moderated a panel that included Jenny MacGruther of Nourished Kitchen, Charles Bamforth, Anheiser-Busch endowed professor at UC Davis & Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation.

Each presenter discussed a different aspect of fermented foods. Jenny spoke about how fermented foods have been instrumental in healing several types of behavioral and physical ailments including autism, asthma and ADD.

Charlie discussed his Buddhist influenced philosophy of the middle way of alcohol consumption and the health benefits of consuming alcohol in moderation.

Sandor’s talk touched on the history of fermented foods and the fear that many Americans have about them due to lack of understanding. My favorite part of his presentation was when he referred to the refrigerator as a “fermentation slowing device.”

There were at least 60-70 people in attendance; many were commercial producers, some were researchers and others were simply ferment fans. After the panel spoke, we broke into small groups to discuss the question, “How do we as a community bring the principles of fermented foods to our broader community?”

Once done, we shared our ideas with the larger group. The energy of all those intelligent minds working together generated a palpable buzz as ideas were swapped and new connections were made. Educational outreach, fermentation clubs and sharing fermented products with others were some of the ideas suggested.

Fermentation Feast

Following the Symposium was an all fermented foods feast curated by celebrity chef, John Ash. From Reuben sandwiches with freshly made tangy kraut to slimy natto wrapped in sushi and different types of tempeh to a whole table of cheeses made with both raw cow milk and goats milk to the chocolate sauerkraut cake to celebrate Sandor’s birthday, the entire meal was a smorgasbord of tastes, smells and textures.

I really enjoyed the kefir fermented coffee with naturally fermented kefir cream and the stimulating conversation with other fermentationists while taking in the breathtaking views of the Western valley of Sonoma county.

The proceeds of the event went to the Ceres Community Project which teaches children how to cook and now has their own line of sauerkraut available at local shops.

Saturday Fermentation Festival

Spreading the good word about the booch

The weather was perfect and spirits were running high as over 40 different vendors converged on the Salmon Creek School for the Festival. I was thrilled by the number of different Kombucha booths, companies and presentations.

Every type of fermentation (besides wine and beer) were represented in a variety of ways: plus chocolate, sauerkrauts of every type, lacto-fermented drinks, kefirs – both water and milk, cheeses, sourdough bread and cedar enzyme foot bath.

For the children and families, there were loads of fun activities – hula hooping, live music, and cabbage stomp. There were also several educational workshops. I presented to an over-packed auditorium of 100+ Kombucha lovers about the history, health benefits and my philosophy of the Kombucha lifestyle.

It was exciting to be in a room of so many eager learners wanting to know more about the booch. And then there were the People’s Kombucha Awards!

People’s Kombucha Awards

There were 9 different Kombuchas present at the Kombucha tasting booth: House, Revive, Mother Knows Best, Lou Preston, Kombucha Botanica, GT’s Synergy Kombucha, Cultured Pickle Shop, High Country & a local homebrew.

Over 100 people voted to choose their favorite Kombucha in several different categories including visual beauty, aroma, mouthfeel, most unique flavor and favorite.

Drumroll please….

The margins were slim and the competition was tight but in the end, the winners of the First People’s Kombucha Awards are:

1st place – GT’s Synergy Kombucha

2nd place – Búcha

3rd place – House Kombucha

Congratulations winners and thank you to everyone we met, and especially Michael Stusser and Jennifer Harris for hosting such a wonderful event!! What fun!! 🙂

Stay tuned for a PICTURE DIARY of the event. 🙂

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