Canning Workshop with Community CROPS

Yesterday I led a workshop on boiling water canning for Community CROPS (Combining Resources, Opportunities, and People for Sustainability) which works with refugee, immigrant, and low income people in Nebraska. Community CROPS also works diligently with gardeners, local organizations, and schools to promote local, organic food production. I am proud to be able to offer my small part to the efforts.

Our group consisted of nine local women, CROPS Assistant Director Brad Kindler, and myself:

please note: I am scrunched down so everyone would be visible in the photo . . . I am NOT, I repeat, NOT that short!!

As can be seen, we did a simple procedure: hot packed tomatoes (which came from the CROPS farm). All the participants helped to blanch, skin, cut and pack the tomatoes. Once we had the jars in the canners, Brad took everyone out for a visit to the Antelope Brethren Church plot (the church donates the plot for gardeners).

Here are a few picts of our tour.

Brad Kindler explaining the garden. Community members from Bosnia, Africa, Iraq, and Mexico grow over 35 different types of plants in this small garden!

Some of the plants:

These red inflorescences are volunteer Amaranth, a grain from Mexico that is higher in protein than any other grain. Its cultivation was banned by the Spanish due to its association with “pagan” Aztec rituals.

Okra: I had okra for the first time last year — an Iraqi recipe made with tomatoes . . . .YUMMM! Okra really grows well in Nebraska and is popular with lots of people.

Tomatillo: Also from Mexico. These are similar to green tomatoes, except they grow in little papery husks (like chinese lanterns). Tomatillos make the BEST green salasa!

Tree collards: CROPS got the cuttings from California. I had never heard of such a plant. Apparently it is not as susceptible to insects (they don’t know what it is either!) — and has served as cattle forage and human consumption in Africa. The problem CROPS is facing is how to overwinter this California adapted plant!

To end the tour, we received advice on composting from Brad.

Once we got back into the kitchen, we had to wait another 20 minutes for the tomatoes to finish. This was the best part! We sat around and exchanged stories of our mothers, grandmothers, and our own experiences with canning, gardening, and life. What a fulfilling day!

2 Responses to “Canning Workshop with Community CROPS”

  1. I really wanted to come participate in this! My sister was in town, and so I didn’t have the free time. Maybe next summer you’ll have to give me a personal lesson in exchange for a few pies 🙂

  2. With all of the e coli and bacteria, it is great to have a resource for locally grown food. This is the way that farming should be… I was listening to a show on NPR not too long ago addressing the food crisis and why we are facing these problems since big agribusiness has taken over food production.

    Good for you… when we move, I eventually want to plant a small garden.

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