Meet Your Neighbor: Traci Hildner, from Lucky Larder

Next in our profile series of “Foster Folk” is Traci Hildner, a local resident with an aspiring business plan to educate and preserve. Literally. As part of her business, Lucky Larder, Traci teaches classes on caning and food preservation, many of which can be attended at the Portland Mercado’s Micro Mercantes kitchen. For those who have access to fresh fruit and veggies (whether grown, picked, or gifted), thanks to Lucky Larder, you now can learn how to make that harvest last beyond the summer and fall months. Below we get to know Traci and Lucky Larder.
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LuckyLarderTraci1) Who are you and what is a Lucky Larder?
I am a 14-year resident of FoPo; a small business owner; a creative, improvisational cook; a caterer of casual events; and an ambitious gardener. (My husband and I recently ripped out our entire front lawn in favor of expanding our vegetable and herb garden.) I also spend a fair share of my time camping, rafting, dancing and exploring the many glorious neighborhoods of Portland. The Lucky Larder exists to help people preserve fruits and vegetables. We do this in a variety of ways, including hands-on classes, private lessons and demonstrations for those who want to learn, as well as drop-off/pick-up services for those who don’t have the time or desire to do it themselves. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term, as I’m learning many are, a larder is an old school word for pantry – originating back in the days before refrigeration, when people had to find other methods of making their perishable foods last.)

2) How did Lucky Larder come to be?
I’ve spent most of the past 15 years as a teacher in a public alternative high school, but cooking, growing, learning about, experimenting with, and (let’s be honest) eating good food have been my favorite hobbies. When it came time to try out a new career, I knew I wanted to do something food-related. Food preservation really appeals to the academic in me. The science involved is super important so that the final product both honors the original quality of the produce and is safe to consume over time.

3) You teach classes at the Portland Mercado. Has the market been as glorious to you (and your classes) as it’s been for those who shop and eat there?
LuckyLarderThe Micro Mercantes Kitchen in the Portland Mercado has been a fabulous venue for launching my business. All of the other business owners I’ve met there have been friendly, welcoming and very supportive of one another, and the kitchen’s manager (Caitlin) is really helpful and a great resource for new business owners. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better starting place – and it’s right here in my favorite neighborhood.

4) You live in the neighborhood and now run a business in the hood, too. What are your three favorite things about Foster and its environs?
The casual, funky, not-too-polished personality of the Foster neighborhoods. The many fantastic small, independent businesses – both those that have been holding down the fort for a while (like Tortalandia, Meticon, Bar Carlo, Da’Hui) and the newbies bringing fresh faces to Foster (like the collections at Foster Row and the Portland Mercado). The people!

6) Finally, Foster is a funny place. Strip clubs meet tire shops meet fancy bottle shops meet dive bars, vintage clothing and record stores. And everything in between, of course. Is there a song, movie, celebrity or superhero that you think best characterizes the neighborhood?
Screen shot 2015-06-29 at 7.33.39 AMOh my gosh… I love this question, but it’s so hard to answer. So many possibilities! Today I’m going to vote for “Rudie Can’t Fail” by The Clash. Just like Foster, it’s a perfect combination of classic and punk, a little loud, a bit rebellious (in the best way) and just rough enough around the edges to keep it interesting. And lyrics like “born for a purpose” and “can’t fail” make me think of Foster’s continuing growth; I think we’re transitioning from simply being the fastest-route-between-two-points to a neighborhood where people want to stop and explore.
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We dig the “Rudy Can’t Fail” breakdown. Good call.

As for the Lucky Larder, don’t forget to support your local businesses, folks. Schedule a class, get to know your canning methods, and see your fruits and veggies last that much longer.

Much thanks to Traci for sharing with us.

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