SHO Food Experience course description

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The SHO food Experience

Join Permaculturist & Chef Melissa Hoffman at SHO Farm’s Permaculture Food Lab for an Intensive, Plant-Centered, Food Course 



In the day-long course and tasting menu designed around YOUR interests, you will enjoy an intimate dive into the world of Vermont’s wild and cultivated perennial plant and fungal foods.  How can we create an ethical, unique, regional, perennial gastronomy? How can we re-discover nourishing traditional foods and unique flavors growing around us? How can we use fire and preservation techniques gleaned from the vast knowledge of the world’s cultural traditions to shape our own exquisite & resilient food future?



Course Fee

$250 includes 7 very full hours of instruction, a day of tastings, access to SHO Farm’s systems, invitations to free future drop-in tastings, discounted tuition for future deep-dives, a $50 discount to Earth Asset’s full day Land Lab at SHO,  a $50 discount off of our apartment rental sanctuary-stay, and ongoing personal mentorship. You are paying for a long-term relationship with us, and our work. All proceeds go to the not-for-profit mission of Sanctuary at SHO where wildlife and rescue ducks (formerly used in a rice-growing operation) will live out the entirety of their lives.


Ripened hazelnut blue cheese on a wild plantain seed cracker, with pear-rose gel. 

Each class is customized to fit the interests of the group. You can choose topics from the list below to help steer each class. 

Full payment due in advance to reserve your space, refunds available if cancellation occurs one week in advance of class which often take a full week to prepare. This enables us to keep class sizes small.  Overnight private accommodation with full kitchen is available for $175 per night here, and full-day course participants receive a $50 discount for their stay.

7  Please fill out the contact form and we will email you an invoice to reserve your spot! Courses fill fast. 


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Course Curriculum

Included in Every Course:

Building your perennial palate in Vermont’s bioregion: different forest mushroom infusions, wild plants, esoteric fruit juices, barks, wood, pine, flower infusions. This is the basis for learning how to taste what is ‘here’, leading to an expertise in combining flavors in dishes and brews.  Also stressed are methods of preserving nutrients over time, building flavor with different biological processes such as wild yeast fermentation, lacto-fermentation, koji mold fermentation, curing, smoking, and combinations thereof.  We’re discovering and promoting a regional plant-based cuisine in Vermont. 

Most of the subjects listed here will be covered loosely in the course, but we can choose more thorough coverage of  any subject depending on participants’ wishes.

The cuisine was some of the most creative and delicious I’ve had. Melissa Smith-Hoffman, chef and farmer, has an ability to coax flavors out of non-traditional edibles that is awe-inspiring. Along with each food course, we imbibed SHO Farm created drinks that included everything from Shizandra kefir to the most sublime hard apple cider you will find anywhere. This truly was a unique food and learning experience, brought into a cohesive, artful format by someone with deep knowledge in ecology, cuisine, and wildcraft. The SHO Food Experience is a rare opportunity not to be missed!
— Gerri Huck

Course Subjects to choose from

  1. One plant, many uses. Focus on pine & seaberry. Using bark, pollen, cones, fruit, wood, leaves, needles, and nuts.  Savory and sweet applications for both
  2. Plants on Fire: how to work with fire, smoke, and wood to get unique flavors. Fire is contemporarily associated with meat and BBQ—find out how to use this foundational element in plant-based cooking. Making smoked salt included. 
  3. Mushroom brews and broths: how to use fungi and other ingredients found in Vermont’s forests to make high quality and healing broths and probiotic ferments. Myco-broths transcend conventional meat and bone broths in both healing power and flavor.  How to use complementary ingredients for high-glutamate (umami) stocks. 
  4. Hard apple cider: what we learned in our two years of intensive brewing. 
  5. Wild plant foods around us: Focus on milkweed. Learn about this and other perennial vegetables found growing in our fields.
  6. Soft ripened nut blue cheeses made with hazelnuts and pinenuts (both grow in our system). Sampling and how to make. 
  7. Making miso and tamari from non-traditional ingredients, including siberian peashrub. The power of koji.  
  8. Ethics and food systems. What about wildlife habitat? Soils? Water? How to encourage and build a resilient food system as a hedge against climate change.
  9. In-depth tour of SHO’s food system, orchard, woods, and field edges, including our plans for wildlife-assisted permaculture (depending on season and weather). 
  10. How chefs and farmers can collaborate in leading the next food revolution.
  11. Wild plants in our neighborhood and how to use them.
  12. Acorns: how to collect, prepare and use them. Complete with sampling foods made from acorns. 
  13. Herbal and flavor preservation: herbal salts, herbal oils, herbal ferments and powders.   
  14. Strategies for preserving valuable nutrients while creating flavor.  Maximizing the value of food through food handling and preparation. 
  15. Blurring the lines between gastronomy and health—food displacing medicine.
  16. Using adaptogenic plants in sweet and savory recipes for health & flavor.
  17. Mother sauces: how to make key staple sauces like fermented sriracha (hot sauce), dashi (stock used in Japanese cuisine) and chimichurri (Spanish version of pesto) using the plants available in Vermont.  
  18. The best kitchen equipment and design for the perennial chef
  19. Building umami with plants: strategies for tapping into the x-factor of glutamates, plus balancing acid, salt, bitter, and sweet elements. 

Something that you didn’t see on this list. 



Mushroom stocks in the styles of traditional Japanese ‘dashi’, and imitating other meat-based stocks. How to create these staple broths that greatly enhance health.

Soft ripened nut cheeses

Hard ciders

Meadow Gruits (beers and wine made from wild plants)

Probiotic brews, including berry, pine, and mushroom IPAs and sodas

Milkweed Saag Paneer

Homemade Bean Curd

Korean Acorn Jelly made with foraged acorns

Kimchi and other lacto-fermented vegetables

Fermented Sauces: sriracha, green hot sauces made from wild plants, olive-brined seaberry

Fermented Horseradish with Tomatoes, pickles, etc as a Virgin Bloody Mary

Siberian peashrub misos

Sorghum Pasta 

Herbal oils

Fire charred mushrooms

Forest Ramen: Noodle bowl made with mushroom stocks & all local, medicinal ingredients

Wild rose petal syrup

Garlic chive capers, lacto-fermented

Seaberry leaf tea

Seaberry nectar

Smoked salts

A sampling of permaculture orchard vinegars


Cooking fast summer meals with saved firewood coals, probiotic IPA, lions mane mushroom, wild hops, aged nut-based blue cheese, berry vinegars from the permaculture system, wild grapes and hawthorn berries, homemade bean curd, shittake potstickers, blue cheese in process, white acorns, smoked salts, meju blocks made with siberian peashrub, preserved lemon cream with pearled seaweed 'caviar', home-grown shiitake logs, flower infusions for meadow gruit/ale. 


sample menus from full-day experience