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Workshops teach locals how to be food-savvy

While many look forward to Oktoberfest to get their fill of brats, a local nonprofit provided an opportunity to learn how to make them year-round on one’s own.

Tuesday, Community Food Initiatives held its first workshop of the spring, a sausage-making workshop taught by local farmer Mike Bycofsk.

CFI is a membership-based, grassroots organization sowing the seeds of self-reliance in Appalachian Ohio, according to its website. It pairs with local farmers, food producers and gardeners to aid the problems of poverty and malnourishment in Athens.

The organization, which has been active since 1992, offers year-round workshops and programs teaching environmental awareness and food security.

]“Our workshop series provides people and institutions with hands-on education in food production, preparation and preservation, and community gardening, along with training, mentoring and networking opportunities,” the organization stated in a press release.

The workshop series offers three to four seminars a month encompassing everything from creating compost to brewing beer.

“The workshops are important for people who are transitioning to living on the land or even those who prefer to live in the city and are just foodies,” said Badger Johnson, AmeriCorps and Program Coordinator at CFI.

The first in the spring series of workshops was the sausage-making workshop instructed by Bycofsk. CFI has offered similar workshops with Bycofsk in the past but brought him back because there was a high demand, said Bob Fedyski, culinary arts instructor at Rural Action, which works with CFI.

“Bycofsk has been raising an organic garden and?processing his own food for almost 50 years,” Fedyski said. “He is a?wealth of information on how to grow and process one’s own food.”

These sausage making sessions are different than the usual programs offered at CFI, Johnson said.

“There are a lot of vegetarians who attend our workshops, but there are a lot who eat meat,” Johnson said. “I was trying to cater to everyone.”

Johnson, who started at CFI this month, got involved in the organization during his time at Ohio University. During his time with the nonprofit, he has worked with community gardens, orchards and compiled seed savings. He also helped to create a seed exchange program for local farmers.

“All of these things allow for community members to become self-reliant and for there to be a lot of free food available for them,” Johnson said.

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