Every growing season do you have 10 bushels of homegrown tomatoes that you will not be able to use? Would you like to get together and can the surplus vegetables that would otherwise go to waste in your garden? Well in the state of Virginia that is what folks did at harvest time.
In an article published by American Profile, since 1942 people have been bringing their produce into the Keezletown Community Cannery in Keezletown, Virginia. People bring beans, beets, peaches, pears, cucumbers and even chickens to the canning kitchen. As a team, these people work to peel, chop and mince among friends and fellow gardeners.
Community canning kitchens started in the 1940’s during the time Americans were doing Victory gardens in the food-rationing days of World War II. Today there is a resurgence of community canneries. Why? People want to know where their food is coming from and know what is in the food according to Elizabeth Andress, director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia in Athens.
This is a chance to give back to the community for all who grow a vegetble garden. Help supply the local food bank throughout the year without having to dig deeper into your pocketbook for canned goods during the winter. And if you are not a vegetable grower, then help can or contact others you know who grow. This is an opportunity for local farmers who have some surplus to also give.
The vision is to duplicate this effort in Callaway, Virginia in other areas. For over 30 years, members of the Highland United Methodist and Piedmont Presbyterian churches have canned apple butter to raise money for building maintenance and help church members in need. Let’s set a great example here by preserving the food we cannot use from our gardens. Remember the old saying: waste not want not.