Spirits, Essential Oils and the Small Farm
Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, 2018
Distillation is an agricultural art, and it is our mission to put this traditional skill back into the hands of small farmers and homesteaders where it belongs. That's why we're offering a two-day course this summer focusing on all aspects of farm-based distilling from seeds to spirits. Led by Kempton Randolph, founder, farmer and head distiller at Hooker Mountain Farm, this class will familiarize students with growing grains and fruits, basic spirits distillation from mashing to operating a still to product formulation, essential oil distillation, as well as how distillation functions as an integral part of the small farm or homestead agri-system. The entire class will be held at our farm so students can get an up-close look at actual crops growing, harvesting and processing equipment, livestock, and a functioning agricultural distillery. Special emphasis will be placed upon micro-scale and traditional hand techniques well suited for do-it-yourselfers and New England's small-scale diversified farm.
Day one will focus on growing inputs for distilling and farming. We'll head into the fields to learn about raising small grains including soil preparation, seeding, cultivation and harvesting, crop rotations suited for New England, and processing and storing small grains. In our orchards students will get a sense of tree care, pruning, orchard design and fruit permaculture. And we'll round out the day with a look at various livestock and the role they play in the distilling-focused small farm.
Day two we'll be getting a hands-on look at distillation and its many forms. Essential oil and hydrosol steam distillation will be explored. We'll look at the valuable products that can be steam-distilled from the forests and fields of New England and the techniques for doing so. How to distill high-quality agricultural spirits using traditional techniques will be explored in depth. Students will learn about mashing and fermenting grains and fruit, principles of distillation, using basic distilling equipment, aging and flavoring spirits with native woods and herbs, creating unique and unconventional spirits, and the general ins and outs of operating New England's first diversified agricultural distillery. The highlights of the day will be an actual run of alcohol on a home-scale still, as well as tasting various spirits at the farm.
The course includes a farm dinner on Saturday night cooked up entirely from food grown and raised on the farm, as well as farm-fresh cocktails. Camping is available on the farm Friday and Saturday nights at no extra charge. Of course, this is a family-friendly event where children and significant others of people enrolled are welcome at the farm dinner and campsites.
To ensure the educational quality of this course, we are capping the enrollment at 12 people.