Beki Auclair came to love all things fermentation step by step as the world opened up to her. First, she learned how to make kimchi from a family she hosted. Then, a neighbor taught her how to make yogurt; next another friend gave her a piece of kombucha SCOBY. Later on, at an open farm day at Pete's Greens, she first heard the phrase "lacto-fermentation" and began to put the pieces together. She dove into Sandor Katz's book Wild Fermentation and felt at home, as if she had found a new calling.
After the Hurricane Irene flood in 2011, the town got together and started a little farmers' market. That was when Beki first started selling fermented creations and found that folks loved them. Over the next few years, she did progressively bigger markets and then opened her first wholesale account with a local independent grocer in the fall of 2018. In 2019, with the help of a beloved neighbor, she moved out of her home kitchen into a licensed food processing kitchen and began to expand production and wholesale accounts.
Over the years, Beki has learned a great deal and become more involved in local food systems and social justice issues. Increasingly, the ingredients in VFA's creations are locally grown and certified organic, and this is being further supported by a new partnership between VFA and Community Harvest of Central Vermont (CHCV). CHCV is a gleaning group the VFA has combined forces with to bring fermented veggies to area food shelves and meal centers. If the business remains sustainable with the help of retail partners like Farmers To You, and food shelf consumers remain interested, the goal is for VFA and CHCV to continue to send many cases of fermented veggies out into the community in 2021 and beyond.