Oct 5, 2018

Affordable & Fresh - Homemade Sauerkraut


Food that is distributed to families in Appalachia from the Donation Station reflect the foods that are seasonally abundant at any given time. Every month our Donation Station and Discovery Kitchen Coordinator reaches out to all of the food pantries that recieve fresh, local produce from the Donation Station and gives them ideas to pass on to their clients about how to use (and preserve!) the fresh abundance. We've decided to share the message with you! Enjoy a couple of seasonal Cabbage recipes below. 


Cabbage will be in season through October, and fermenting cabbage yourself will keep it available for use months beyond its harvest or purchase. Cabbage is extremely nutritious! ½ cup of cabbage provides 45% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and B6; and minerals folate, and manganese. Cabbage also contains quercetin, an antioxidant that is a natural antihistamine that can benefit allergy sufferers. Learn more about the nutritional benefits of cabbage here



1 medium cabbage (cored and shredded/thinly sliced)

2 tsp. sea salt (up to 1 tbsp.)

4 tbsp. whey (optional: for casein/dairy free recipe, omit and use twice the sea salt)

1 tbsp. caraway seeds (optional)

If you do not have any whey handy or would like your sauerkraut to be vegan, simply replace the whey with double the amount of sea salt!


In a large container, mix all of the ingredients together. Then pound with a wooden pounder or food hammer for 10 minutes to release juices. Or just get in there with clean hands! I did not have a pounder at my apartment so I chose to use my hands and it was incredibly effective (as well as a good hand exercise).

Then place in a wide-mouth, quart-sized mason jar and press down firmly until the juices cover the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 in. below the top of the jar.

Cover tightly (but not too, too tight*) and keep at room temperature for 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

The sauerkraut can be eaten right away but, like many things, it improves with age! I would suggest going as tight as possible and then doing a quarter turn backwards to let some gas escape. Learn more about making Sauerkraut here

I continued my journey with the Eastern European dish Kapusniak, which is made with fresh cabbage during the summer & fall months and sauerkraut in the winter time.

I specifically wanted a recipe with ginger and garlic since I could feel a little cold coming on, and ended up with a warm and hearty dish that was quick to prepare and produced many servings.


  • 3-4 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • handfull of cherry tomatoes, diced 
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste (substitute for soy sauce or liquid aminos)
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced or minced
  • 1 tsp Chinese chili flakes (optional)
  • about 2 cups sauerkraut 
  • 2 liters vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, for cooking


1. Heat olive oil in a large pot on Medium-High heat. Add onion for about 4 mins. Then add garlic for about 30 seconds.

2. Add potatoes and carrots for 5 minutes. Then add ginger, miso paste, chili flakes and tomatoes. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes.

3. Add vegetable stock to pot and boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. (I only used 1 L and was successful and still had a large portion of soup)

4. Add sauerkraut and cook until tender but still crisp.

Serve warm and top with cilantro and green onion if desired! Learn more here



Sep 14, 2018

Vest Berries Potato Harvest

To get to the Vest Berries farm you drive on roads that wind back and forth and up and down hills, between fields, and beneath arching trees that turn road into tunnel.  Other than a post displaying the address, there’s no obvious sign marking your destination, but through the fence and down a short lane you can clearly see you’ve arrived at a place that knows produce: High tunnels and carefully tended fields create a patchwork of greens and browns on gently rolling land bordered with trees.  


Anyone who’s worked in a garden or on a farm knows that the labor is tiring and the hours long, that fields don’t magically produce food.  So while the beauty here is serene, it also represents countless hours of sweat, exertion, and persistence. Today we learn that maybe there’s magic here after all -- in the fact that effort put toward growing and harvesting food is rendered enjoyable and rewarding through cooperative effort.  I’m not a full-time farmer, so maybe those who’ve spent more time in the field would disagree, but from my experience, to toil alone can be back and spirit breaking. To toil together can be energizing and healing. Today we’re harvesting potatoes, together.


When I arrive farm owners Rick and Terry meet me.  Three of CFI’s incredible AmeriCorps volunteers, Alex, Bailey, and Sierra, have been harvesting for more than an hour, and they’ve already managed to fill several 30-60 pound sacks of potatoes.  We head down the hill to join them, Rick taking the tractor and a potato-harvesting implement to unearth another row. The potatoes were planted in long hummocks, and as Rick pulls the implement along one of the hummocks a sort of conveyor-belt of posts passes under the soil to lift the tubers up from darkness.  It’s not an exaggeration to say the whole process effectively transforms this humble, staple vegetable into something incredible and beautiful. (We do occasionally cross paths with a rotten potato. These are smelly and less beautiful.)


Sierra, Bailey, and Alex have established an efficient system for harvesting and I’m able to join without interrupting the flow.  Sierra and Alex move along the row gleaning the potatoes that the potato harvester exposed completely, while Bailey and I follow, kneeling against the hummock and raking through the soil with our hands to find any taters that remain buried.  The rhythm -- repeatedly reaching into the dirt, seeking with both eyes and fingers for the little bulbous treasures, depositing treasure into potato sack, moving down the row -- is meditative. The four of us ride waves of conversation then quiet, learning more about each other as we work, listening to the sounds the world makes when we’re not covering its hum with our chatter.  


Berry Patch Cat either keeps us company or silently judges us from an adjacent plot -- depending on your perception of feline friends.  We are dirty, and with noon approaching the sun has gotten warm enough to make us sweat, but there’s next to no complaining. Most comments revolve around how therapeutic it is to feel the dirt against our skin and be working out under the sky.  I don’t mean to overly romanticize this sort of labor; on the contrary, doing something like this for just one morning makes you all the more aware of how difficult it can be, and how unjust a system is that doesn’t compensate field workers fairly.   


Alex, Bailey, and Sierra need to go so that one of them can make it to a COMCorps commitment, and I stay to finish a row.  A new rhythm of picking up surface potatoes and then digging in the dirt emerges; what seemed like silence after my colleagues first left quickly fills with bird and insect songs.  After a little while Rick comes and helps in order to speed up the process, and we load the final crates into the back of his tater-gator. (So, it may not have actually been a Gator, but tater-gator was irresistible.)  The next day, Alex and another volunteer return to harvest one final row, for a grand total of over 600 pounds of potatoes donated to CFI from Vest Berries -- that we then easily distribute to pantries and other food assistance organizations.


Over and over again in the midst of this busy harvest season I find myself thinking that the name Community Food Initiatives is appropriate in so many different ways.  Today, the togetherness that naming something “community” implies is obviously apparent. The communal effort of growing and harvest food supports a community of people that, in turn, will be able to better return the invested time and energy.  It’s a beautiful model of resilience, all packed into the humble skin of a potato.

Sep 12, 2018

Community Garden Update

Exciting things are happening here in Nelsonville as we begin our balmy transition into fall!

We were fortunate to have a group of volunteers from Ohio University’s Campus Involvement center come out and help us accomplish a lot of big tasks. Together we were able to turn up 4 of our beds and begin to add the much needed soil amendments. While the plots were being tended to, we were also able to cut down and create a mulched path all the way around the garden. It is amazing what a difference mulch can make!

With our hands in the dirt we discussed the healing powers of gardening as well as the connection we began to feel with the earth, our food, and each other. The vision for the Nelsonville gardens is to bring exactly those connections to the local community and creating a space for creation and growth. Our plans moving forward at this point are to install a fence on top of the retaining wall, finish working in the soil amendments in time for winter, and laying down the rest of the paths. In addition, we are excited to be in the planning process of involving the community in designing and painting a mural on the large, white retaining wall!

We are so grateful for all the folks who have shared their time with us, we could not have accomplished all we have without them. An extra big thank you to the Ohio University Campus Involvement center for their dedication.

Here’s to a successful fall season!


WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.