Kombucha

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After trying Vicki’s homemade yogurt, (drizzled with fresh honey of course) I was curious about the process of lactofermentation. After discussing different foods associated with the process, we stumbled upon the topic of kombucha tea. Vicki pulled out her go-to cookbook, Nourishing Traditions – The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon, and had me read a portion on lacto-fermentation and kombucha. Intrigued by the drink’s health benefits, Vicki offered me a portion of her kombucha mushroom so that I could make my own.

Kombucha Recipe:

3 quarts filtered water

1 cup sugar

4 tea bags of organic black tea

½ cup kombucha from a previous culture

1 kombucha mushroom

Bring 3 quarts filtered water to boil. Add sugar and simmer until dissolved. Remove from heat, add the tea bags and allow the tea to steep until water has completely cooled. Remove tea bags. Pour cool liquid into a 4-quart pyrex bowl, and add ½ cup kombucha from previous batch. Place the mushroom on top of the liquid. Cover pan with a towel and rubber band for 7 to 10 days and kombucha will be ready, depending on the temperature. Transfer to covered glass container and store in refrigerator.

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After learning how to make kombucha tea, Vicki introduced me to a fashion designer via TED Talks that grows clothing from kombucha mushrooms. Although I am not studying fashion design myself, the concept blew my mind and made me realize the potential of agriculture as an art form: http://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_lee_grow_your_own_clothes.html

biocouture01It was also at this time that Vicki gave me some insight to her own art career. She showed me the portfolio from her final art show, and pointed out an installation involving a small boulder. The piece, she explained, was based on the idea of staying grounded. For her, it was after having a baby that she realized her role as a mother needed to come before her role as an artist. The way I interpreted it was that although an artist will surf through the clouds to find inspiration, it is important for them to walk upon the earth as it is. I learned that after inheriting the farm, Vicki made a decision to start a new chapter in her life that no longer involved art, but rather focused purely on staying grounded. Although this story was not directly encouraging for me as an artist, it forced me to analyze my own life and priorities. At this point in time, I am striving to find a balance between the two, and I realize that this will take time.

Internship at Homeadow Song Farm

Tonight I began my internship with Homeadow Song Farm. Working alongside Vicki Mansoor, I will contribute to the Green Acres exhibition that opens on September 21st, 2012 at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. As well as helping with the show, I hope to expand my knowledge of organic farming and draw inspiration for my own work.

Arriving at the farm for the first time, I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded me. Walking up a long gravel path, I saw a cottage-like building to my left and an assortment of tall trees and colorful plants to my right. Passing the house, I walked further to find a chicken coop and a barn. Content in this aesthetic paradise, I soon found Vicki and introduced myself. After getting a tour of the farm, we went straight to work on building and stringing bean poles.

The first order of business was weeding, the second, stringing the pole. Although our initial conversation was small talk, the more we worked, the deeper our conversations grew. After a few hours of working, we covered a range of topics from gardening to relationships to God. I observed that in the same way as when I make art, the repetitive act of pulling up weeds and tying strings to poles for a long period of time brought me to a higher level of thinking.

Before starting the stringing of the bean poles, we found ourselves in a dilemma; one half of the ball of string we wanted to use had been sitting in water for a few days. Because of this, the string would break into pieces after unraveling it. Rather than throwing out the ball of string all together, we instead took cooperating wet pieces of string and tied them to dry ones. Although this added extra effort to our process, we found a way to save a material that was perfectly useable.

After the bean poles were completely strung, I felt fulfilled and refreshed from working with my hands to create something grand. It was also gratifying knowing that because of our efforts, the beans would now have something to climb up.

There truly is so much beauty in dirt.