Activating communities: Fermentation fever in Hastings.
In 2015, Octopus Alchemy held a fermentation workshop at a vegan cafe in St Leonard’s – A year on, we catch up with Scott Garrett to talk about his workshop experience and the impact it’s had on his own practice and local community.
What is your name? Scott Garrett.
What attracted you to the workshop with Octopus Alchemy? I had been reading more and more about lacto-fermention on a few blogs I read like Root Simple (an urban homesteading blog) and had just discovered Sandor Katz. I had an old book on preserving but it looked like a long and laborious process of brine and skimming etc, but these new posts seemed like it was much simpler. The workshop popped up and i thought it would be great to actually prove that it was and just to make sure i wasn’t missing anything!
Did the workshop play out as you expected it to? It did all that and more, giving me a much more rounded understanding and practical grounding in fermented foods, bacteria and their health benefits. Most importantly it gave me the confidence to just get on with it!
How do you feel that the workshop experience changed your perspective on health and nutrition? I had been struggling with a condition for several years, diagnosed as Fibromyalgia (which I’m still not sure about, but it seemed close enough!) with chronic fatigue and depression. I hoped maybe it might magically restore me (it hasn’t yet, sadly). It was also at a time that we were assessing our eating habits and had also decided to go wheat free. A lot of things were being looked at food wise and the workshop definitely helped focus me on this. With dropping wheat and eating lots of ferments I lost 2 stones in a year. It wasn’t my aim at all, but it proved to me that something crucial was changing. My gut was noticeably changed – without going into detail, i knew!
“The social value of these workshops is invaluable – they show how fermenting is as much about social change and a new politics of looking after and nourishing each other”
In a sentence, could you sum up the social value of the work of Octopus Alchemy? The social value of these workshops is invaluable – they show how fermenting is as much about social change and a new politics of looking after and nourishing each other, as it is thinking about where food comes from and what we are putting into our bodies
What were the tangible effects of your workshop experience? Are you doing anything differently now? Any exciting projects underway? Not only am I now making ferments, as part of a regular routine, I’m also sharing them with friends and encouraging them to start their own. This lead me to eventually start a Facebook group, Hastings Fermentory, for local fermenting in and around Hastings. I’m now about to do my first workshop, hopefully i can start someone else on the path to a lifetime of fermenting and better health!