Kudzu Camp 2017: Logistical Details

Dear Kudzu Campers,

Justin Holt and I are excited to be closing in on the fifth annual Kudzu Camp from Thursday, March 16- Sunday March 19. Kudzu Camp will be taking place at the lovely south-facing kudzu paradise residence of my father, Avram Friedman, who is generously hosting our gathering again. We’re another year deep into the learning and healing and growing that can come with this incredible plant, which has so much to teach us about the net of relationships between plants, global ecosystem change, human nutrition and medicine and material needs, and pragmatic economics.  We’re intending to have registration filled by March 9.  As you probably have read, we’re continuing the “experimental skill-share” model this year in which we ask for a modest sliding scale donation instead of a set tuition; it therefore relies on participants taking some initiative, and each participant helping to make it all run smoothly and keep us comfortable and well fed.

It’s very important that you read the details below and commit to your days of participation and meal contributions by March 5 at latest, so we have time to plan and troubleshoot before the event begins.

Please respond to this email with:

1) Your dates of attendance (we ask that you commit to attending at least 2 full days including Saturday, from8:30-6:00 each day, in order to attend) 

2) Your proposed meal time slot and menu (first and second favorite choices for one meal, sometime between Thursday through Sunday, breakfast lunch or dinner) 

3) Your plan (or unmet needs) for lodging

4) Your intended donation amount so we know what we have to work with for event expenses, OR your interest in work exchange instead of cash contribution

5) Any other questions or information you have for us at this time

Some things to consider for your participation

1) Commitment to participation, punctuality and contribution– We’ve designed a schedule intended to create fun and group cohesion, a valuable learning experience for you, and to demonstrate an effective kudzu work process (a fairly complex process that requires explanation and attention to detail). Our requirement is that each participant come for at least 2 of the 4 days between March 16-19, and that 1 of those 2 days is Saturday. If you show up late, leave early, or miss a day that you told us you’d come, it could deprive you of learning and impact the whole group. So, please attend when you said you will, arrive on time and stay at least until 6:00 each day (but ideally also for dinner!). 

We are again hosting Kudzu Camp this year as an “experimental skill share” rather than a paid workshop, and we’re emphasizing the informal village-style learning vibe instead of a formalized curriculum. Part of this format involves asking participants to cook meals for each other instead of hiring a chef for the event (see #2 below). However, we have put alot into organizing it and have associated expenses, and we’re accepting donations in the spirit of our old teacher Frank Cook: “Give what you can, receive what you need.” We are asking for $25-40/day/person contribution if possible, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. If you are interested in being involved and want to reduce cost even more, we need several work-exchangers: 2 set-up exchangers to come Wednesday afternoon by 1:00 p.m. and help setup the outdoor kitchen and root processing area, and 1 clean-up work-exchanger to stay through to Monday evening. Please let us know immediately if you want to help out in either of those ways.

This is our daily schedule:

7:30– coffee and tea and hangout

8:00– breakfast served

8:30-9:00– morning circle (and finish breakfast)

9-12:30– Explanation/teaching/kudzu process

12:30-1:30 lunch

1:30-5:30– Kudzu process

5:30-6:00– Cleanup

6:30– Dinner served

8:00– Evening activity

2) Meal preparation and ingredient standards

The main way we have minimized cost is by instituting a shared meal preparation plan instead of hiring a professional chef. Each participant provides all ingredients for and cooks one meal during his or her Kudzu Camp experience. We expect to have between 15-25 eaters present at each meal. One person prepares each breakfast and if we have enough participants, two people collaborate on each lunch and on each dinner. Please plan a delicious meal with whole food ingredients (i.e., unprocessed and high quality) that you know you can serve on time (according to above schedule), and which includes a balanced set of carbs, fats, proteins and some vegetables. Please make all food gluten free, and ideally organic/homegrown/wildcrafted, with pastured/organically fed meats and dairy products, if you use them. If you have food allergies or strong health-based needs that you haven’t expressed to us yet, please let us know ASAP so we can share that information with the group to help meet your needs.

Please include in your response to this email a proposal of which meal you want to cook, what you intend to prepare, and how comfortable you are cooking for a mid-size group.  If you’re having trouble coming up with a meal idea, contact me. We are providing cooking oils, butter and basic spices, and my dad has a pretty fully stocked kitchen in terms of pots, pans, and other equipment, but bring all other ingredients necessary for your meal. Please bring a cooler to store any food that needs refrigeration.

Here are the available meal slots:
Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Breakfast Justin Zev

3) Hearth roles

From past years we’ve gleaned a list of roles that need filling during Kudzu Camp to help everything run smoothly. Things like firewood gathering, tending the composting toilet, making coffee and tea, shuttling people to and from cars, and tending kudzu starch on a daily basis. After we know who will be coming on which days, we’ll place you in a schedule of daily roles and ask for your approval before Kudzu Camp begins.
4) Parking and lodging
If you are attending on Thursday the 16th, there is probably space for you to park near Avram’s driveway (contact zevkudzu@gmail.com for address). If you are attending Friday, Saturday or Sunday you’ll need to park at Harold’s Supermarket on Hwy 107. Please plan to get there between 7:30-8:00 and there will be a shuttle person with a sign waiting in the part of the parking lot near the road.
If you are intending to spend the night and don’t know yet where you’re sleeping, we have 2 friends who have offered their spare bedrooms for you to stay in. Contact  zevkudzu@gmail.com for info. We also suggest looking into AirB&B options in the Sylva/Webster/Cullowhee/Cherokee area, and as a last resort there are motels in Sylva which probably have low rates for the off-season.
You are also welcome to camp outside near my dad’s house, which might be pleasant or unpleasant depending on the weather, and there will probably be some floor/couch spaces inside the house but it is unpredictable.
5) Inclement weather

We are a hardy bunch and will perservere in the outdoor kudzu process if it is at all reasonable. However, this winter-dependent process is inherently uncertain, and if it is wet, muddy and miserably cold we will go inside, and if it looks to persist that way we’ll call off the remainder of the event. Please bring a variety of layered clothing, changes of clothing, rain gear, changes of clothes, a towel for yourself, and at least 2 pairs of outdoor shoes to make sure you’re comfortable. We will have a large overhead tarp this year for the outdoor kitchen and processing area.

6) Evening activities

We’re loosely planning some evening activities and wanted to let you know in case you want to plan for them. Friday night is a kudzu fiber discussion and hands-on activity and discussion of kudzu polycultures. Saturday night is a Kudzu Open Mic when songs, stories, poems or other compositions inspired by this venerable plant can be shared.  Sunday night is a closing and discussion of the nuances of processing and using the starch and other co-products of the process.

Thank you for reading. There will be updates posted after I have meal, attendance dates, and Hearth role information, and we’ll see you in a few weeks!