Farmhouse Culture Bids Farewell to Farmers Markets | CUESA

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January 11, 2018

Farmhouse Culture Bids Farewell to Farmers Markets

We are sad to share that Farmhouse Culture has decided step away from farmers market and will no longer be at the Ferry Plaza on Saturdays. Since Kathryn Lukas started bringing her handcrafted organic sauerkraut in wooden crocks to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in 2009, Farmhouse Culture has earned a devout following and grown into a popular brand, now in stores around the country. It is always bittersweet when one of our beloved vendors leaves the market, but we are so proud of their success, and wish them the best as they share the wonders of fermented foods far and wide.

Kathryn shared this statement:

Dear Friends,

In early 2008, the idea for a fermented foods company had been brewing for nearly a year. Since 2004, I had been fascinated with “everything fermented” and felt the time might finally be right to share these delicious, friendly microbes with the rest of the world. When my friends, Christine and Eric Taylor at Outer Aisle Farm in Murphys, CA, said they were willing to add my three krauts to their CSA order form, I was ecstatic. What better place to showcase my babies than alongside the gorgeous produce they had grown with such love and care?

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and it was not long before I relocated back to Santa Cruz and started selling my krauts at the Santa Cruz Farmers Market. I will never forget the first day. Neighbors jumped in to help me as I fumbled with my (not so) Easy Up tent, and when I was finally set up and ready to go, I remember thinking “This is truly one of the proudest days of my life.” Farmers Markets held the promise of a better food system and here I was standing next to my heroes, the hardworking farmers who were delivering on that promise.

As the business grew, the reality of fermenting a product for 4 weeks and waiting another 30-90 days to get paid by distributors was setting in. The cash flow from Farmers Markets became critical to our survival and at one point, we were selling at 14 markets a week in the Bay Area, just to keep the lights on. Those were crazy, crazy days. Between making kraut and running the business, I was working ungodly hours, but the Farmers Markets never felt like work. The community of farmers, vendors and customers was nourishment for my soul and really kept me going those first couple of years.

One day, it became clear, I could no longer do it all. The decision to put Jason Lindsay, my brother in law, in charge of markets was bittersweet. I knew I had to let go in order to grow the business but, I sorely missed our customers and other vendors, many who had become dear friends. Jason did a phenomenal job of juggling the logistics and management of markets and marketeers and I am eternally grateful for his steadfastness through the years. It was the right decision because I now had to time to focus on growing the company and, I am very proud to say that along with the good energy and hard work of a truly amazing team, we have managed to become a best-selling national brand.

We now find ourselves at another turning point in the business. In 2017, new food safety regulations eliminated our ability to sell kraut directly from the barrels and prohibited us from bringing any product we take to markets back to our facility. As you might imagine this has taken the fun and the profit out of Farmers Markets. Perhaps even more important is something we have had a really hard time admitting because Farmers Markets are so much a part of our DNA. It hurts to even write these words but, I think we all know it is true. The time has come for Farmhouse Culture to move on and to make way for the next generation of fermenters.

We will miss so much about the markets. It is hard to fully express what our customers and fellow vendors have meant to us through the years. You are all very much a part of Farmhouse Culture’s success and I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you.

With love and gratitude,

Kathryn Lukas
Founder
Farmhouse Culture

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Learn More »