Farmers’ produce stands are popping up everywhere, and gardeners are already starting to see the fruits of their backyard labors.
Summer is in full bloom, and people are already harvesting the first of their crops.
It’s already the perfect time to pickle, do some creative canning or frugal freezing to get ready for the long winter months ahead when fresh, local produce won’t be abundant.
The Richmond County Cooperative Extension will be offering classes on how to do all of these things.
“Canning and freezing local food while it’s fresh is a great way to save money,” said Sarah Mammarella, family and consumer sciences agent. “Fresh, local foods are also better for you because they have been picked at the peak of ripeness — instead of being picked way before they’re ripe and then shipped. The fruits and vegetables we eat that have traveled long distances have less vitamins and minerals.”
Leeann Crump, of Rockingham, has been preserving fruits and vegetables for about 40 years and enjoys her stores throughout the winter.
“I have a small garden now, but whatever I don’t grow myself I get from local farm stands and preserve,” she said. “I preserve berries and peaches when they’re in season here, and I grow spinach and kale year-round to freeze for soups.”
Crump’s mother’s family taught her how to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables, and the Richmond County Cooperative Extension will be passing along the same useful know-how to others in the community.
The co-op will be hosting classes in July and August, and sign-ups have started.
July 2, freezing techniques from 1-4 p.m.
July 24, canning techniques (green beans and tomatoes) from 1-5 p.m.
July 26, peach preserves from 6-9 p.m.
August 16, pickling from 1-5 p.m.
The fee is $20 for the first class, and $10 for each additional class. The fee includes a Ball Blue Book of preservation recipes, along with a jar of whatever is made during the class.
Classes are already filling up, so early registration is encouraged. To register call 910-997-8255. Classes will be held at the co-op, located at 123 Caroline Street in Rockingham, beside the health department.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.