My Italian grandmother, Josephine Vallelonga, and her mother, my great-grandmother Emmaculata Vallelonga, didn’t know any other way than to raise their own animals, grow their own vegetable garden, and cook everything from scratch. It was seeped from traditions from the “old country” but really it was just that era’s way of creating. They didn’t have far reaching resources, so eating local and sustainably was natural and just the way it was. As we grew into the 1960’s and 1970’s, the factor of convenience, overseas war(s), and processed and canned food, eventually turned into TV dinners that came out of a box.
Enter 2016, and the movement for local, sustainable, makers, and farm-to-table are becoming far more pervasive. Like many cyclical trends, we have come full circle. The connection to people and our food is increasingly more important to consumers, yet unwinding from our recent history of microwavable food that isn’t local, takes time and education is needed more than ever.
Enter Hatch Lab out of Boulder, Colorado.
Created by Mara Rose (below), her business aims to create educational content and resources that are carefully curated and enjoyable to consume. As Mara puts it, “you can think of Hatch Lab as an online farmers market meets your grandma’s kitchen.”
When I asked Mara why she created Hatch Lab she said she was inspired by the opportunity at hand – realizing that our lives have become too outsourced and people were removed from the making process and “knowledge of traditional skill has been lost. Many of us are disconnected from where products come from and who makes them,” she shares.
Hatch is an homage to people that are interested in “creating, tinkering, and experimenting, and supporting small artisanal companies that care about quality, the health of humans, and the health of the planet.”
Their classes teach the consumer how to make things that are simple, but useful. They focus on finding inspiring and talented artisans and farmers to be part of their network, and then you get the chance to “work” and learn from them online. Think of videos and thoughtful blog posts such as making kimchi at home, or how to start seeds in your own home, or 5 tips for the budding kombucha brewer. The classes are just $5 and include detailed FAQ’s, agenda, equipment detail, and thorough context through the video that provides true guidance for getting started in creating.
Their mission is two-fold explains Mara. First, she plans to engage artisans and experts who teach the Hatch audience, encouraging “hatchers”. Secondly, they support “emerging artisan companies by telling their stories, sharing their wisdom, and making their high-quality, useful products available to our audience.”
Although the main focus is educational courses and reading online (so it can reach anyone) Mara also hosts a small selection of in-person events where she can connect the artisan, expert, or farmer to the consumer in an intimate setting. She plans to do a small handful of these across the country, supplementing her Hatch Lab concept.
A beautiful half day excursion took us to Mountain Flower Urban Goat Dairy where we learned about the farm’s and goats, we milked them by hand, then we moved to making cheese from their milk (ricotta and stretched our own mozzarella) courtesy of Farm Director and Chef, Michael Montgomery.
At noon, we enjoyed a lunch by Cured under the swaying trees and sun on the beautiful Autumn afternoon. Then, we capped off the day with Jessica Beer, Cured’s GM and incredible lead cheesemonger as she led everyone through a cheese tasting and class.
By getting your hands dirty (literally), you’re able to be closer to what you create, support local artisans and farmers, and learn. And learn we did.
Take a look at a bit of our journey over the course of our excursion.
I applaud Mara for her breadth and bringing together these amazing people, resources, and community. I couldn’t recommend Hatch Lab more if you’re looking to learn and create, especially within your own home (keep it local).
Check out her next in-person event/class below and stay tuned in for more by signing up for her newsletter here.
*Forage and Ferment Event:
Here’s the scoop:
- $160 per person
- Farm tour and harvest at 63rd Street Farm
- Meet-the-farmer and harvest at Cure Organic Farm
- 3-hours of hands-on learning with Kirsten Shockey
- 3 jars of your fermented creations to take home
- Fermentation-inspired artisanal lunch crafted by Cured
- A surprise fermentation-inspired gift
- Snacks and drinks throughout the day
- Limited to 10 participants
- Dietary restrictions can be accommodated
When asking Mara what she plans for 2017, she excitedly shares that they will be launching a carefully curated online marketplace, to add to their already existing online community and resources.
“In back of the bread is the farmer, and in back of the farmer is the mill, and in back of the mill is the wind and the rain and the farmer’s will.”