I started farming in 2007. I've worked on several
small, sustainable, organic farms since then: a
sheep and goat farm with renewable energy; two
draft horse-powered farms; a farm that grew
specialty salad greens for high end restaurants
and green beans for local CSA farms; a diverse
farm with almost every kind of animal, vegetable,
herb, and foraged mushroom; and a grass-based micro-dairy. I've managed a small vegetable and fruit CSA, pressed cider, tended orchards, sold cultivated mushrooms, raised backyard chickens, and gardened an awful lot.
I started fermenting at around the same time: vegetables, fruits, dairy, grains... you name it, I've probably cultured it. My two favorite kinds of vegetables to ferment right now are crosnes (Stachys officinalis) and sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes, or Helianthus tuberosus). My favorite fermented beverage right now is hard cider.
During the 2015 season, I grew and fermented vegetables in southcentral Wisconsin and sold my pickles at the Madison Eastside Market on Tuesdays, the Monroe Street Market on Sundays, and MadCity Bazaar on the first and third Saturdays of every month from June through November. To get pickles directly to eager eaters on a regular basis, I operated The Weekly Pickle and delivered a pint of fermented vegetable Farments™ to convenient locations in the Madison area every week.
In October 2015, there was a medical emergency in my family, and although I completed the 2015 season, I traveled between Wisconsin and Arizona -- where my family lives -- several times over the fall and winter. In the spring of 2016, I made the decision to move to northern Arizona permanently. I am currently looking for land that I will share with my wonderful mother. We hope to start growing vegetables and fermenting pickles for Farment™ in northern Arizona starting in 2017.
I believe it's all about the soil. Vegetables grow better in soil that is healthy, well-drained, well-balanced, not compacted, and full of organic matter. After they're harvested, vegetables grown in healthy soil ferment better. Fermentation relies on the beneficial bacteria on the skins of the vegetables, which grow in and come in contact with the soil and the air. The better the soil, the tastier the finished ferment.