Adding Value to Vegetables Through Live Fermentation.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Christopher Chmiel
Integration Acres Ltd.

Information Products


  • Fruits: berries (brambles)
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, garlic, onions, peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, market study, value added, whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    The use of fermentation for the preservation of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts into delicious and nutritious products is a tradition used around the world, though not widely used by farmers in our region. Fermentation is an important food preservation skill that farmers and consumers alike may benefit from. There is also evidence that fermenting actually improves the nutritional value of many foods. We intend to experiment with various fermented foods based on a variety of vegetables, fruits, native plants and mushrooms. This will give us a wide range of products and experiences. We will keep records of our costs and labor in producing each product. Our goal is to be able to produce fermented products in a cost effective manner. By the end of this grant we should have a list of best ideas for fermenting for a local farmers market. We will grow and wild harvest some of our own crops for use in the ferments but will collaborate with other farmers at our local farmers market to source a broad range of vegetables or fruits that are to be used and/or processed with fermentation. We will create an educational brochure that explains the basics of fermenting and the health benefits of fermented foods to the consumer. This brochure will outline the art of fermenting as a healthy and energy-efficient way to process food. As we experiment we will participate in Internet-based groups discussing the art of fermenting vegetables and fruits. We will hold a fermenting workshop that will cover the basics of fermenting for consumers and farmers alike. This project is important to both our farm and to farmers in the region as it will reduce waste and increase sales and profit. For instance, a farmer may find that if pecks of cucumbers go unsold at the market stand they can be taken to a kitchen and fermented into sour pickles to be sold later at a higher price. This value-adding creates more on-farm employment and a preserved product to be sold later. If we can successfully lower our costs related to the production of fermented foods, we can make these products accessible to more customers. For example, several local restaurants we sell to use 5-gallon buckets of sauerkraut every week and are able to get these for as little as $25. This last year we were selling a pint for $5 at the farmers market, which just barely covered our costs. If we can lower our production costs we could process and sell more fermented food products all sourced with local ingredients and sold locally. Bigger processing tools and fermenting tubs may help us achieve this goal.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.