Camphill Soltane's Artisan Food Production Work Area, Food Preservation & Traditionally Fermented Foods.
On a typical weekday morning, Iduna's Kitchen is a veritable beehive of activity. Workers chop, stir, pound and bake, sharing easy conversation all the while.
A pot of maple syrup simmers on the stove; garlands of red chile peppers decorate the walls; jars of cheery lemon marmalade beckon from the counter. This is the food-crafting workshop at Camphill Soltane, where organic, whole foods are transformed into delicious granola, yogurt cheese, sauerkraut, gingered carrots, biscotti, and marmalade. Other products enter development when the crew agrees they’ve got a hit.
Iduna’s Kitchen is one of the work areas within the Soltane Works vocational program at Camphill Soltane. Heading up the crew is Clare Kinsella, a former coworker and AmeriCorps member turned full-time staff member. Working with them are several full- and part-time professionals, apprentices, coworkers, and volunteers.
Clare floats among the crew members, offering support as needed, but generally taking a hands-off approach. “Clare, what do I do now?” asks one professional, Pamela, spoon hovering above a bowl of granola. “What does the recipe say?” asks Clare.
This is a snapshot of the approach that is echoed in the other Soltane Works vocational areas. Clare explains, “Professionals have developed skills they can share with others. They rely on each other for knowledge and know their work well, so they don’t always have to look to coworkers for guidance.”
The advice works. Pamela refers to her recipe, earmarked with her own notes, and carries on.
This emphasis on self-reliance is strengthened by practices that encourage personal reflection. Every worker has a 3-ring binder where they keep their recipes, their notes on what’s worked well and what hasn’t, and their personal goals for their work. Time is set aside every week for crew members to journal.
Iduna’s Kitchen builds on skills that many professionals have honed through years of cooking together in houses, taking cooking classes, and participating in baking workshops. “Working together is a constant discovery process of what people know and can share. If it’s stayed with them, this means something,” says Clare. Once a discovery has been made about a person’s skills or preferences for work, they engage in projects that utilize those talents. Tasks that are done frequently provoke a memory response which is crucial to people’s ability to “own” their work - one factor that distinguishes a professional from an apprentice.
People are frequently grouped into working pairs, whether the purpose is the transfer of a skill – such as the pairing of a professional with an apprentice – or just the creation of a positive work environment that helps each person achieve their best.
One of the quieter professionals in Iduna’s Kitchen, Gozde Guleryuz relies on her memory responses to perform a variety of tasks. Gozde handles most of the small knife work needed in the work area, including chopping almonds for granola and dried apricots for cookies; she also measures ingredients, ladles products into jars, and has milled grain into flour.
Fellow professional Yahanas Tabb-Bey takes a break from pounding cabbage for sauerkraut and walks by Gozde as she sits chopping almonds.
“Good job, Ms. Guleryuz,” he offers.
“Thank you,” Gozde beams, rewarding Yahanas with a smile.
At present, the fruits of this labor are enjoyed entirely by members of the Soltane community; Iduna’s Kitchen products cannot be sold to the public because the kitchen is not certified. Achieving certification for this kitchen is a long-term goal, but comes with a price tag of $10,000. With certification, Iduna’s Kitchen will not only be able to sell its products directly to the local community, but will be able to produce the items in-house for Soltane Bridges Bakery and Café.