September 26, 2018
Dear Friends of Fermentation on Wheels,
The year started off strong for the Barb the bus, Franklin, and me. After a successful book tour along the Pacific Coast, we camped for two months in Slab City hustling cultured-oat date shakes and delectable wines, howling at the moon, soaking daily in the nearby hot springs, and connecting with new friends alongside campfires over music. It was a stark contrast from the winter before, in which I was pulling all-nighters perfecting the illustrations for my book, often alone. Writing a book was the hardest, loneliest-feeling thing I’ve ever done, and coming out of those feelings and into renegade boiling mud-pot desert-lands was one of the most glorious gifts of 2018.
The two major themes of my year thus far have been defining boundaries and following my heart. I had two bad habits following me in from 2017: I wasn’t establishing strong boundaries with others and feared change in my professional life.
Our job is to follow our hearts, and my heart-path can be a painstaking labyrinth. I’m full of contradictions. Though I’m well-organized and reach beyond the territories of convention in my professional ambitions with ease, I’ve got itchy feet and am most comfortable living on the edge. I’ve got a piercing clarity of mind but the messiest of hearts. I also have very little separation between my heart and my professional life. This makes both establishing boundaries and following my heart excruciating at times!
I’ve been asking myself, since 2015, What do I want? Where do I want to be? and Where do I feel most at home? I want to enjoy the moment, but the moment has become increasingly difficult to enjoy because my heart has been craving something else.
One of the greatest contradictions in my life has been my need for the hustle and bustle of the big-city accompanied by my die-hard love for the deep magic of nature and the alchemical sweetness that dwells there. Without the city, though, I start to lose air – I cut my life support.
How do people live without the perspective big cities offer? How do they live without the people from everywhere? The people! They are extraordinary, with so many stories, styles, [dreams, hopes] and embodiments. They breathe life into a place—they bring the art, the food, the culture. I am so grateful to know this urban world so well, to have been shaped by it.
And then there’s the other end of the spectrum – a life in the woods. I left the city because of my obsession with microbes, ECOSYSTEMS. Where every plant contains intense powers, be it poison or medicine, and gives great service to the earth and humans. There are mycelial networks in the soil, too – communication networks (between plants!) Even more amazing is that we are also connected to them. There is a synergy between all microbial lifeforms, a you-got-what-I-need innate underlying hidden life-force between all of us. Not much excites me more than knowing we are part of their cycle. We feed them, and they feed us. It is a perfect, beautiful and delicious system, and in some parts of the country it is epic in-your-face. I’m thinking about the Pacific Northwest. the California Coast. UTAH. Magical canyon-mountain-desert-land of the Southwest.
I’ve hit head-on with such contradiction this year. I am at awe with the West and its natural diversity, however, I’ve decided to move back to the East Coast, close to Washington D.C. I miss the human element and cultural/social diversity too much, and I believe educating urban communities is absolutely necessary for making positive impact in the natural world.
In addition to this big move, that my heart is exclaiming, “go, go, go!” to, I’m transitioning into a new space with Fermentation on Wheels. We are between death and rebirth now, and I’m not certain I’ll know exactly what’s going down until I arrive on the East Coast.
It is certain that Barb the bus will become more stationary, to be more of an art space and a tiny home-model for microbial sustainability. The current plan is to raise money for a smaller vehicle that that will serve as a traveling and teaching space. Those of you who witnessed my first drive-through in the Northeast and New England with Barb surely know why I want a smaller traveling and teaching space. Barb is enormous!
I head east with my bus tomorrow, September 27th from Montana. I plan to drive through South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Kentucky on my way to Virginia. Though I’ll mostly be working on research and development during these travels, I’m open to some stops along the way. Feel free to reach out. I recommend catching me at Fermentation Fest in Wisconsin, if you can, as it will be my last big bus presentation. Thanks to the Pacific Northwest for six incredible homebase-years. Hello East Coast! I can’t wait to be in you.
Fermentation on Wheels is a grassroots project that brings fermentation education to communities of all ages and backgrounds and inspires with a school bus that has been converted into a fermentation lab, library, and workshop space. The project’s founder, Tara Whitsitt, organizes events nationwide to bridge communities and restore a genuine fascination in local, traditionally-preserved foods. By traveling the country, connecting consumers to local farmers, and teaching fermentation, she hopes to emphasize the importance of strong, sustainable food practices and values.
Fermentation on Wheels was born in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in May 2013. Tara converted a forty-foot vintage military bus that summer and departed from Eugene, Oregon in October 2013. Since its departure, she has traveled over 24,000 miles from coast to coast holding workshops, potlucks, and culture exchanges in schools, community centers, and at festivals. Tara has collaborated with organizations and businesses such as Edible Communities, FoodCorps, and Just Food, and as well as dozens of farms and homesteads.