Animal (hide tanning), Vegetable (fermenting), and (fruit) Miracle

If the New Year is getting you excited to learn some new skills, I have a couple fun classes and things to suggest.

1. Scion Exchange

Berkeley, San Jose, Sebastopol, and many more! 

If you have fruit trees, you can graft different varieties onto your tree! Last year, I went to the scion exchange in San Francisco and got some crazy kinds of fruit trees to graft. Sadly, not one of the grafts took, even though I spent hours going to the scion exchange, whittling scion wood and cleft grafting onto my pear and apple trees. The year before I had four take. Clearly I’m getting all Flowers for Algeron on the grafting tip. I need to brush up!  That’s why I’m so psyched that again the scion exchange is coming! This year, it’ll be in several places, I’m going to the one in San Jose on January 9th, because it’s at an urban farm that sounds mighty wicked.  

For more info about dates and times for the scion exchanges, see the California Rare Fruit website.

2. Rabbit Hide Tanning Class with Tamara Wilder

Ghosttown Farm, Oakland, CA

Feb 6-7, 9am-5pm (Saturday & Sunday)

Braintanning is a natural, beautiful & soft method for tanning furs.

In this two day class, participants will partake in the whole process—from prepping and fleshing the pelt to smoking the softened fur.  Tools and materials will be provided and some softening tools will also be available for sale.

Domestic rabbit furs will be supplied.

$120 per person   

Bio: Tamara Wilder has been demonstrating and practicing ancient living skills for the past 20 years.  She is the coauthor of the book Buckskin: The Ancient Art of Braintanning and regularly teaches seminars on stringmaking, braintanning, firemaking and other ancient technologies across Northern California.  More info at  

If you’d like to sign up or get more information, email me at novellacarpenter at gmail dot com. 

*Never mind if you don’t keep rabbits, the concepts in this class apply for all kinds of hairy critters, including squirrels and roadkill. Tamara is a total bad-ass. 

3. Sauerkraut Making on Valentine’s Day

Biofuel Oasis, 1441 Ashby Ave, Berkeley

February 14, 11-12:30


Come on down the Biofuel Oasis and learn how to make sauerkraut and ginger beer from my friend Leslie, who is mighty knowledgeable about all things fermented. We’ll supply all the raw materials to make a jar of kraut and a bottle of ginger beer to take home to your loved ones–with tastings in between. 

Register here; and while you’re there, check out all the other cool classes like Keeping Chickens and Ducks, Greywater, Backyard Beekeeping, Mushroom Cultivation, and Rabbits!

6 responses to “Animal (hide tanning), Vegetable (fermenting), and (fruit) Miracle

  1. Are you going to be filming the hide tanning class? I can’t make it down there, but I would buy a DVD of the class (maybe a t-shirt, too if one existed).

    We are preparing to keep rabbits (especially after your talk and demonstration in October) and would love to have the info on hand for when we need it.

  2. doood – you are so cool! when are you going to come up to freezing Canada? we sure could use a dose of your humour and experience.
    Hope all’s well, and thanks for keepin’ on keepin’ on.

  3. Hi Novella,

    I just finished reading your book. It was awesome! You write so engagingly; the story of your farm and your conviction inspire me. Good for you for doing it even if (especially because?) it’s quirky.

    In the book, I wish you’d talked more about your ducks…they’ve long been my favorite fowl. (Nice voices, cute, non-scary size, delicious.) And I wish I hadn’t had pet rabbits growing up because they seem like the perfect livestock to raise in a small space, but I just couldn’t deal with “taking off their pyjamas” and related events. I admire your bravery.

    Last summer we bought an old building in downtown Boston and are planning to plant the roof with a garden. As well as the all-white flowers that I just have to have, we also intend to plant as many fruit-bearing plants as we can – grapes, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and some dwarf trees (apple, plum, etc.). (We’re reframing the roof with lots of additional supports to hold all that weight.)

    I’m going to follow your blog and keep up with your progress. Your New Year’s resolutions sound exciting and very much like a natural and fun outgrowth of your project in the book. Good luck – count me as one more person who’s rooting for you.

  4. Novella –

    Thank you for telling us about the event today, I would not have known otherwise. It was great meeting you today, and thanks for signing my book.


    PS – I’m not a stalker!

  5. I just made some homemade kim-chee on Friday. It’s fermenting and every time I look at it, I start drooling. YUMS! The fermented veggies class looks great!

  6. The cheese you made looks good. Keep up the good work with your blog I have found it to be very interesting!

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