When Kate Hodges was a child, she remembers picking wild-grown, red clover on the Michigan roads nearby her home. She recalls how she would lift the stem to her lips and drink the nectar. Kate explains that this was her first memory of connecting food to the environment and cultivating an appreciation for foraging. “You can’t find that flavor anywhere else. That experience helped me not be afraid of plants that grow without our care and cultivation. It didn’t feel scary.”
Today, Kate’s love of sustainability, unusual flavor, and passion for foraging has blossomed into an urban farm and business, Foraged & Sown. Kate co-owns the business with her friend, Rachel Tayse, who shares her own vision for harvesting, growing, and education. Foraged & Sown began in January 2015 in Kate’s front yard with just enough planted herbs to sell at market or fill the table. Leftover herbs were dried and used for salts and teas. Now, just a year later, the farm and business has swelled in popularity and growth. The philosophy behind the business developed out of that love for new flavor profiles and a desire to see people interact sustainably with their environment.
Kate explains, “There is an education process. I want to push people’s boundaries in what they’ve tasted before or how they might use something.”
Kate and Rachel’s commitment to pushing boundaries have had some wonderfully delicious repercussions. If you stop by Foraged & Sown’s market booth, you’ll have an opportunity to sample blueberry sage, Lemon-Spicebush finishing salt, or acorn cookies. Depending on the day, you might get a taste of foraged persimmons, elderflowers, or get some fresh sour cherry and black pepper jam to take home.
Those unique flavors have translated into Foraged & Sown’s latest venture – craft-made sodas. These homemade sodas are a refreshing blend of unique flavors, both sweet and complex. As consumers, one gets used to “what people [corporations] tell us is the taste of fruit, but it’s not real,” Kate says. But with flavor profiles like Tulsi Cardamom and Sour Cherry Tarragon, her sodas offer well-balanced flavors that are truly authentic to the ingredients they represent.
Foraged & Sown’s sodas are made from real fruit simmered and stewed with fresh herbs from the farm. “We are inspired to think outside, to think of what is traditional in the midwest and have more wild options,” Rachel said. The result is vibrant concoctions that both surprise and delight the palate. With a depth of flavor, crispness, and bubbliness, these sodas have already made a splash in the local culinary scene. Currently, the sodas are sold exclusively through Goremade Pizza in Italian Village.
Owning a small business has its challenges, and Forage and Sown’s has had their fair share of obstacles. Even so, Rachel says it’s worth the effort. “People talk about supporting local and small business, but don’t always show up practically. But the the joy is that I get to share what comes out of the earth that I steward with other people. I feel like I’m improving this little piece of earth or at least trying… that’s what I love.” she says.
Kate agrees that sowing and growing are the things she wants to be about most in the world. “For me, the joy in growing and producing things comes from change. Planting something and seeing how it changes over the season, seeing it flower, seeing the fruit form, watching something evolve is exciting for me.” Recently, the business received a Rural Development grant for their practices of preserving wild flavors and incorporating Nordic traditions. The grant will allow the business to continuing growing and offering their products to local restaurants, distilleries, and retailers.
Kate and Rachel, whose children are best friends, also believe in creating a sustainable model for not only their family, but for those who come after them. The duo focuses on responsible stewardship of the land, organic models, sustainability, and the “Leave No Trace Principle” which seeks to minimize impact on wild spaces. Kate says, “We are not just stewarding this for ourselves and our business, but we believe in modeling for the next generation of foragers.”
Foraged & Sown products are available through their website, foragedandsown.com, the Clintonville’s Farmer’s Market and Goremade Pizza.