9 – 23 SEPTEMBER | 2016
W W W. S A N TA B A R B A R A S E N T I N E L .CO M
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Fermentation Festival participants doing a cultured vegetable class
being recognized as the naturally healthsupporting foods that they are. Today, most folks know about kombucha, sauerkraut, and cultured vegetables, to name the most popular products. If fermentation was just a fad for novelty-seeking foodies, however, the craze would likely have already died. The rise in popularity of these foods is due in large part to their powerful, lasting health benefits. The addition of fermented foods to the diet can help build and repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria and microflora, strengthening the body’s ability to properly assimilate nutrients from food, as well as ward off illness in some cases. Fermented foods have in many instances aided people in overcoming an array of digestive health and even autoimmune issues. This was the case for Katie’s family as well. I digress. At the 2011 Sonoma-based fermentation festival, Katie was blown away by the amount of inspiration and information offered and came home determined to get involved more deeply. So that same year, Katie and her mother hosted their first fermentation workshop on Tom Shepherd’s farm in Carpinteria. Their goal was to teach people about the health benefits of fermented foods and do demos, so that attendees could learn how to make fermented foods and beverages at home. By any measure of a first-time, grass-roots event, their turnout of 75 people strong was a success. They made sourdough bread, sauerkraut, cultured veggies and pickles, and kombucha. “We chose Tom Shepherd’s farm because we wanted to use his organic produce in all the demonstrations,” Katie explains. “Organic produce has beneficial bacteria on it that greatly enhances the fermentation process.” That is why the fermentation festival is and has been as much about the land and organic farming as it is about fermented food products. After that first workshop, they realized they had created something that was of real value and interest to the community. Within another year, they had outgrown Shepherd’s farm and realized they had a small festival on their hands, at which time they found partnership with Fairview Gardens Organic Farm, where
they had a happy home for the growing festival for another couple of years. Finally, they have landed their dream venue, the Stow House at Rancho La Patera, a large avocado and citrus orchard established in the late 1800s that is now protected by the Goleta Valley Historical Society. Still family-run, this year’s festival is expected to attract 1,200 people on Sunday, September 11. THE BIRTH OF CULTIVATE EVENTS Katie came to event planning already having plenty of experience from doing it at UCSB for years. From her work organizing the Fermentation Festival, she then got connected with others who wanted to do similar events within the realm of agriculture/food/organic farming. These business owners and organizers became her early client base. She says that Cultivate Events is her dream business. “I wanted to do events that promoted local food and farming.” So far, she has been able to make a fullblown career out of these niche events. Through it, she is getting to follow her passion for educating people about local food and farms, and impacting lives in a positive way. Katie tells the story of the night that she made the decision to start Cultivate Events: She and her family were having Sunday night dinner at Full of Life Flatbread. “I remember the food we were eating – oh, it was sooo good..” (You know you’re talking to a die-hard foodie when they remember the meal they ate on a given day and time three years ago.) Katie’s parents told her that night to take the leap and start her own event business. “Now is the time,” they told me, “You need to follow your dreams.” (#parentenvy, anyone?) Despite living her passion through her new business every day, she admits that event planning is stressful. “Event planning has been rated the fifth-most stressful job in the U.S.,“ she says, in her spirited yet matter-of-fact way. To maintain work-life balance, she is adamant that her health comes first, and having overcome her own digestive health issues, a commitment to self-care is part of what fuels her to continue. Integrity and commitment to her vision of a brighter, healthier future could also be said to be pillars of her brand. “I only take on projects I really believe in. My clients have to be on board with local food and farming. It needs to be an engaging, educational, and community-driven event.” When asked what she has learned from this six-year process, Katie says, “Go after what your passionate about. Do something that you truly love.” Words of the wise.