Note: this is the 1st part of a 2-part series.
I've wanted to start a fermentation enthusiasts group for a long time and, fortunately, Madison seems like the perfect place to do so. I suspect that this is because there are a lot of people around who are interested in food and fermentation, but the product market is nowhere near saturated (save for bread, cheese, and alcohol), leading to a lot of interest in home fermentation. This is only speculation formed from talking with people in the area, however.
The first step in starting the collective was verifying a sufficient interest in actually forming the collective. To do this, I found UW Madison to be an incredible resource. Being a college town, nearly everyone is connected to the university in one way or another, and there are listservs that loads of people are on (many of them not students) because they often post about events, trades, sales, etc. that are happening in the city. That's not to say I spammed listservs - on the contrary, I ended up having to send only a single email to a single listserv (that focuses on environmetal studies) and was able to gain the amount of interest I was looking for (I set a goal of about 20 people to start). The email looked something like this:
I’m an enthusiast of all things fermented, and think it would be fun get like-minded people together to share knowledge about home fermentation (and possibly swap homemade goodies). Specifically, I’m looking for people interested in teaching, attending, or hosting some small class/workshop/skill sharing events focused on any kind of fermented food/drink – from bread to kraut, miso to chicha.
If this sounds like something that might tickle your fancy, please send me a message! I’ve also put together some more information about my plan, which you can read here.
Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!
The link is to a google doc with a slightly more fleshed-out proposal - I would have included the information in the initial email itself, but decided it was more important to keep it short and sweet.
Had reaching out to the listserv not been enough, or had I not had the resource in the first place, I would have most likely put up flyers in the area - most likely around places where people buy their food. It's important that the group is made up of members of the local community, after all.