The Fine Art of Vinegary


Leatherwood Vinegary is nestled on a beautiful site north of Long Prairie River. Ron and Nancy Leasman are the artisans living and working with natures gifts on this mystical quaint farm. WETCC Extension and Leatherwood Vinegary crossed paths during a Regional Flavors Ecotourism gathering. That is where the journey begins.

The universe seems to open paths to knowledge at the most opportune times. A group of community members that were involved in the garden immersion sessions were reflecting over the lessons that presented themselves over the past year. Our gardens and wild food harvests were spectacular this year. Sometimes all that goodness has it challenges . We were running out of fresh ideas of how to prepare, process and/or store the abundant crops from the years harvest. Too many times over-planted crops end up in the compost pile. Kale and cucumbers are wonderful and nutritious, but you can only eat so much of it.  We also wrestled with the issue of the fruits having a lot of sugar added to them in making jams and juices. Being the enthusiastic group that we are, we knew resolve would come our way.

The fine folks from Leatherwood Vinegary offered a tour of their amazing establishment. Once there, the answers to so many issues came to us in one neat package. Vinegar. A kitchen staple that may be overlooked and under used by many of us.

Plans were made on the spot for a workshop to learn the basics of vinegary. A small group went to the intensive hands-on teachings given by experienced vinegarist, Ron Leasman. With a lot of patience (and written instructions), Ron sent us on our way to produce fine vinegars.

In a few months, this group will have had enough experience to share their knowledge with the community. Please contact WETCC Extension if you would like to learn the fine art of vinegary!




Crafting Bone Tools

The underlying philosophy of WETCC Extension Service is to reconnect people with nature. In an effort to understand and appreciate the gifts of Mother Earth, we explore the traditions of our ancestors. One of the traditions that seems to be very clear and universal to all Indigenous Peoples is to use what you have and let nothing go to waste.

With that in mind, it is hunting season in this part of the world. The meat and bones from a variety of animals give us much needed protein. So many times the bones are discarded after the soup is gone. With a little bit of creativity and a couple of saws and files, beautiful ornaments and functional tools can be made. A few of the items made at Extensions recent workshop are, knives, fish hooks, needles, tooth picks, lamp base, awls, and pendants.

Simple steps to creating bone tools.

Step one: Gather bones. Use bones from a hunt, local meat processor or from a finished meal.

Step two: Remove skin, hooves and as much meat and tendons as possible. Be sure to cut the bones so that the marrow can be removed from the bone (remove at least one joint)

Step three: Boil the bones until all of the marrow can be removed from the bone. This may take several hours. Do not put the bones in the oven as the dry heat will make the bones brittle.

Step four: Let the bones air dry.

Step five: Draw a pattern on the air dried bone. Cut the bone with a saw to shape the tool. Use files to finish shaping the tool.

Step six: Polish finished tool with sand paper and steel wool. Option- soak the tool in peroixide to whiten.