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Mar 06, 2012 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

INNA Jam No More Over Kitchen Space

The California food community is abuzz about The California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), a proposed new state law that would legalize selling foods that are produced in home kitchens. I think that allowing small scale food producers to start legitimate businesses out of their homes and eliminate, at least temporarily, the cost of renting a commercial kitchen could have a great impact on our burgeoning food community and the local economy. Commercial kitchen space isn’t the only cost of starting a food business, but it’s a pretty significant one. Not only that, from my personal experience as a jam-maker in the Bay Area, there simply aren’t enough commercial kitchens available – finding a kitchen that suits one’s needs can be an extraordinary challenge.

When I first started INNA jam as a hobby, I was working out of my home kitchen. Before too long I outgrew the little stove and limited counter space, so when INNA became a business I moved my work into a commercial kitchen. I did this for legal reasons, but also because I needed the space and facility that a commercial kitchen provides (and cooking spicy jalapeño jam in my tiny house was nicknamed “fumigating” by my boyfriend). Some food producers might look forward to working in their state-approved home kitchens, but I personally was happy to graduate to the next level. Home was a great place to discover jam making, develop recipes, and refine my craft, but I needed to find a more professional way to produce jam in larger quantities.

The first shared commercial kitchen I worked in was a small storefront bakery with a single burner. The second commercial kitchen was a shared catering kitchen that hosted five full-time tenants. While both were big improvements from my tiny home kitchen, neither of those spaces were the right fit for my jam company: not enough hours available in the shared kitchen, inappropriate equipment, a severe lack of storage space. In order to avoid contamination I worked at night when no one else was there. It was very hard work, but not unusuall for startup food businesses – almost every other food producer I’ve talked to is faced with similar challenges and limitations. Space, the final frontier. There is a real shortage of commercial kitchens in the Bay Area, so most food producers have to work crazy hours, juggle multiple storage locations, and improvise with the facilities they can find.

After a couple of difficult years working out of shared commercial kitchens that were not very well-suited for making jam, I decided to invest the time and resources to build a specialized jam kitchen. The new INNA jam kitchen in Emeryville is currently under construction and I expect it will be ready in time for the spring harvests (There’s a kickstarter campaign going on right now to raise funds for the much needed equipment: I’m building a kitchen that’s specialized for preserving fruits and vegetables, outfitted with the appropriate equipment, plenty of storage space, and no chance of contamination (the kitchen with be gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and meat-free). What excited me the most about this new kitchen is that it will be a resource for other producers like me who work with fruits, vegetables, and herbs – making jams, pickles, hot sauce, syrup, teas, etc.   Aside from sharing the space with like-minded businesses, I look forward to more closely collaborating with the farmers that I work with. The new kitchen will not only allow me to increase production of INNA jam, resulting in increased support of local organic agriculture, but it will also give me the flexibility to schedule my jam-making around their harvests, and make jam specifically for them – to preserve the fleeting season into a jar and create a value-added product that they can continue selling long after the first frost has come.

Dafna Kory is the founder of INNA jam, producing single-varietal fruit jams and spicy pepper jams from organic fruit locally sourced within 100 miles of her kitchen. Dafna served as a committee member for the 2012 Preserves category and as a judge for the 2012 Pickle category. She recently launched Provender Social Club, a monthly gathering connecting food producers. See a video and learn more about her new jam kitchen here:

Mar 02, 2012 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

2012 Good Food Awards!

Photo By: Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine Photography

The Good Food Awards 2012 have come and gone and what an amazing celebration it was!  We ate and drank our hearts out celebrating all those 99 craft producers creating incredible food products that are tasty, authentic, and responsibly produced. From Alice Waters to keynote speaker, Ruth Reichl, the Good Food Awards was a full house overflowing with passion and congratulatory remarks for all of the winners.  The winning producers flew into San Francisco from the likes of Utah, New York, Texas, and Alaska!  50 members of the press from Sunset magazine, 7X7, the Chronicle and more, tasty dishes created by 9 reknowned SF chefs and restaurants and incredibly unique cocktails prepared by the famed Bon Vivants were just some of the perks as over 500 guests partied the night away, and thousands more showed up the next day to meet the winners at the Good Food Awards Marketplace.

New this year, the Beer and Spirits garden, a chance for  winners to sample their products upstairs in the Ferry Building while run concurrently with the Marketplace. Over 500 people joined us for this unique opportunity to not only taste, but discuss the making and mastermind craftsmanship behind each product.   Wakida Farms’ Pisco, Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Clear Creek’s Eau-de-Vie were just a few of the 14 products featured. One distiller called the Beer and Spirits Garden “the best tasting of their lifetime.” The crowd was energetic, pulsating an interest that amazed all the producers. When asked if they would do it again next year, the universal response was, “If we are lucky enough to win again, absolutely, without a doubt!”

Until next year…check out all of our winners at and watch the Good Food Awards video here.

Nov 21, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

New York City Roadshow: Spreading the Good Food Gospel 3,000 Miles Away

Photo by Jen Flaxman

We have just finished up our second official stop of the Good Food Awards Roadshow and New York City was definitely good to us! Besides the beautiful weather, we were met with passionate, inspiring and driven Good Food lovers at every event we hosted. We’d like to take this time to officially thank New York City for it’s wonderful hospitality.

To begin the festivities, Gimme! Coffee hosted Coffee Tasting Workshop at Williams-Sonoma at the shops in Columbus Circle. We were so excited to have Colleen Anunu of Gimme! Coffee come down from Ithaca to teach the attendees (and ourselves) about the proper way to taste coffee. Working alongside Gimme! Coffee was, who put on a recipe contest for the best recipe featuring coffee. The winner, Joanne Bruno, concocted a great recipe one night when she and her med-school friends wanted a dinner party, but also needed to stay up to do some studying. The result was this mesmerizing Orzo, Arugula and Butternut Squash Salad in a Maple-Coffee-Vinaigrette. She did a great job demoing the recipe and all the on-lookers were very glad to try some for themselves. Check out Joanne’s blog, Eats Well with Others, here.

On Monday night, hosted by The Brooklyn Kitchen, local food entrepreneurs gathered for a panel and seminar, Bringing Your Product to Market. Panelists Harry Rosenblum, owner of the Brooklyn Kitchen; Shan Ma, from Gilt Taste; Chris Forbes, founder of Sourpuss Pickles; Bob McClure, founder of McClure’s Pickles; Cerise Mayo, founder of Nutshell Projects; Elly Truesdell, from Whole Foods Market; and Amanda Oborne, VP of Sales for FoodHub fielded questions from the local entrepreneurs and discussed the best ways to develop a food company in a way that is authentic, responsible and financially sustainable. The panel was followed by a reception where attendees sampled some of last year’s Good Food Award winning products including Smuttynose’s Robust Porter, S. Wallace Edwards and Sons’ Surryano Ham, Clothbound Cheddar from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Real Pickles’ Garlic Dill, Sourpuss’ Peppered Okra, McClures’ Dill Pickles and Madecasse’s Milk Chocolate. Levain Bakery was also gracious enough to donate baguettes to finish our cheese and meat plates. In the mingling afterwards, we were met with a pleasant surprise. One of the guests, a budding ice cream maker, happened to have brought by some samples of her new product in case the attendees wanted to try some out – and all were happy to oblige! Good luck Phin and Phebes, the ice cream was indeed delicious!

The Roadshow NYC culminated on Tuesday morning at a Press Breakfast where the Good Food Award Finalists were announced. The atmosphere at il Buco Alimentari was perfect, with their upstairs event space filled with samples of all of the finalist products. As guests entered, they were greeted with hot coffee, dutifully brewed by the Counter Culture Coffee crew, while those with a strong stomach opted for a whiskey cocktail, featuring Finger Lakes Distilling Rye Whiskey mixed with a pear puree and walnut liqueur made in-house by il Buco. After a few brief remarks from Seedling Projects director Sarah Weiner, Chris Forbes of Sour Puss Pickles, and Kitty Greenwald of the Wall Street Journal, guests were encouraged to pull out their program and look over the list of finalists. Excitement filled the air and as soon as the plates were polished off, the tweeting began, everyone congratulating the finalists on their big success.

As the morning came to an end, so did our time in New York City. Again, we’d like to say “Thank You!” to everyone who came out to help, eat or just enjoy any of the events. New York City was a gracious host and we cannot wait to return for the Good Food Awards Roadshow 2013. Until then, you will just have to wait with baited breath until the winners are announced in at a Ceremony in San Francisco on January 13th.

Nov 07, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

Good Food Awards Roadshow Austin: A Success!

On Saturday, October 29, we hosted our inaugural Good Food Awards Roadshow down in Austin, Texas. The day started off with a Taste Workshop led by Good Food Award preserves winner and Austin native Stephanie McClenny of Confituras discussing the traits that characterize a Good Food Award winning jam. Later that afternoon, Food Hub Vice President Amanda Oborne hosted a panel and seminar for food entrepreneurs about how to create an ethical, responsible and financially sustainable company, and all of our guests enjoyed a delicious reception featuring last year’s Good Food Award winning products and local Austin Good Food favorites.

The day finished up at Hudson’s on the Bend, one of the city’s finest restaurants, where each course on the night’s specially designed menu featured one of last year’s Good Food Award winning products and were paired with a Good Food Award winning beer.

One highlight of the evening was a silent auction held to benefit The Austin Community Foundation’s wildfire relief efforts. This year’s fires did a lot of damage to many sustainable farms in the South and through our auction (with gifts from Wustof, Anolon, Round Rock Honey, Pine Street Market, Greenling Organic Delivery and Zhi Tea) we were able to raise over $1,000 to aid in relief and rebuilding efforts.

Though we were sad to leave all of our new friends in Austin, we are anxiously awaiting our next stop: New York City. From a coffee Taste Workshop with Gimme! Coffee at Williams-Sonoma, to a seminar for food entrepreneurs at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and finally the unveiling of this year’s finalists at il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, it is sure to be an action-packed, Good Food filled few days on the East Coast. Find out more information and event details here. We hope to see you there!

Oct 14, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

A View from Inside: Good Food Awards Blind Tasting 2011

Photo credit: James Collier

After long days of heavy lifting, when the signs were hung, pods stationed, goodie bags assembled, it was finally time for the event we’ve been working so hard on putting together for the past few months. As we unloaded boxes, looking at the entries of the people who we’d spoken to on the phone or conversed with over e-mail, it finally felt like everything was coming together. We worked tirelessly over the week and weekend, some of us running all over the Bay Area, others manning the endlessly ringing phone, and the rest of us unpacking and sorting the beautiful entries at Veritable Vegetable warehouse.

On Sunday morning, armed with bellies full of Starter Bakery focaccia and caffeine buzzes courtesy of Ritual Coffee, we were anxious and ready. One hundred and thirty of the food movement’s best and brightest started rolling in, game faces on, ready to judge over 900 entries from 46 states, and decide the lucky few who will be honored with this year’s Good Food Awards Ceremony.

Our first tasting session got off and running without a hitch, thanks to all of our wonderful committee heads. As I took a quick tour of our host location, the HUB SoMa, it was clear that each category had it’s own unique approach to judging. While the coffee judges poured, sipped and smelled silently, those in beer got rowdy early, taking a discussion-based approach to weeding through their 120 entries. And as I walked past preserves I heard Alice Waters quietly remark that she’d “really love this jam on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”.

For lunch, the judges, staff and wonderful volunteers enjoyed cauliflower salad, arugula salad and a pasta salad (featuring Oakland-based Mara’s Pasta) courtesy of 123 Bolinas. Hard to believe that anyone had an appetite after 3 hours of cheese-tasting, but alas, I guess the sight of beautiful, delicious food can provoke anyone.

And so the afternoon began, with each of the categories tasting the top-scoring products from the morning session. The tasting floor was abuzz with discussion, debate and opinions, as the pickles judges narrowed down their choices, and charcuterie kept trucking through their round after round of terrines, hams, and jerkies. But soon into the session, it seemed the judges palates started demanding a change because before we knew it there were pickles in the cheese area, preserves in the spirits area, and charcuterie and beer everywhere. I could have sworn I heard the cheese judges calling out for “an IPA, stat!”

As the tasting wound down, our judges handed in their final score sheets and our Committee Heads tallied up the top-scoring products (who will go through one final vetting process before being formally announced as Finalists in New York City on November 10th – no sneak peaks here!). They gathered there gift bags – featuring Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite’s new book, Eat Good Food, a Heath Ceramics book, Rosemary Shortbread (courtesy of Foodzie), and a special gift from Gilt Taste - and headed to the last part (best part?) of the day…

The After Party!

Held at Sightglass Coffee and hosted by The Butcher’s Guild, the celebration was a mishmash of our judges, staff, volunteers, family and friends, all filled to the brim with Good Food leftovers, and sipping happily on Cinnamon Old Fashioneds and Tequila Punch courtesy of Bon Vivants. For those with a never-ending appetite, there were also Grilled Cheese Sammies on delicious Acme Bread, as well as Wise Sons Deli famous Coffee Cake and Chocolate Babka. From the looks of it we sent everyone home full, happy and definitely not empty-handed.

All things considered, here at Seedling Projects, we are counting the second annual Blind Tasting for the Good Food Awards a major success. A gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who helped make it possible: our Committees, volunteers, judges, and most importantly the producers from all over the country who entered their products, we -literally- couldn’t have done it without you. We can’t wait to announce the winners and see everyone again in January for our Good Food Awards Ceremony and Marketplace!

Sep 14, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

Movements Are Funny Things

What exactly makes something a movement? In my first few months as the Program Coordinator for Farm to Desk DC, it is a question that I’ve returned to frequently. Theoretically, I am now both a member of the food movement, and someone tasked with helping to build the edible schoolyard movement here in DC. So, seems like I better get it figured out quick.

Here in this federal town, August is a time for getting prepared. After all the debt-ceiling shenanigans, Congress finally took its recess, giving the city a chance to breathe. And as parents went shopping for backpacks and middle school students raced to finish long-neglected summer reading lists, teachers laid plans for the coming school year. Right before students come pouring through those doors, everything seems possible, both good and bad. In my experience, you’ll find that teachers are a peculiar combination of creatively ambitious and terrified this time of year. They can’t stop thinking about all the engaging lessons and inspiring units they’ll provide for their classroom. And yet, they also can’t stop imagining all that will go wrong, all the stress and long hours that will eat away at whatever summer-vacation-energy-surplus they were able to acquire.

At least, that is how I always felt.

So far at EW Stokes Public Charter School – Farm to Desk’s Pilot School – I’ve found dedicated and passionate teachers fighting the same fights that teachers fight everywhere: staff turnover, programmatic change, test score anxiety, and too much to do with too little time. And yet, despite all that, the teachers and administrators are committed to an innovative and powerful wellness program that includes: lots of physical activity; a from-scratch kitchen producing healthy, delicious meals; environmental education; and a school garden.

What a privilege to be working with such a forward-thinking school. In the next week, I will start teaching a Food & Ecology class to the Third and Sixth Grade classes, and soon after that, I will lead student activities in the garden and new outdoor classroom with Jonna McKone, our Garden Manager. The Sixth Graders will learn about the history, legend, science, and math of apples, all in preparation for selling school-made apple products at a trend-setting city festival that reached out to usbecause they thought what we were doing was cool.

At the same time, I have been receiving inquiries from teachers and administrators all across the city, asking how they can incorporate food literacy into their academic programs. Last week, I had the first meeting of many with teachers who are particularly dedicated to bringing healthy food and habits to their students. We dined potluck-style and shared frustrations, strategies, and dreams for changing the way food and nutrition is taught in our school system. In this age of high-stakes testing, such conversations help me believe that schools can be about more than just Math and English proficiency; that they can be about creating healthy, creative, engaged citizens. In these moments, I think, now this is a movement.

Some days, the possibilities really do seem endless.