My grandparents lived on a farm which was part of a large estate in New Jersey, and I spent many weekends and vacations with them. My grandfather managed Aberdeen Angus, pigs, and chickens. My grandmother had a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees. I can remember walking with her in the early morning as she picked Japanese beetles off the vegetation and dropped them in a kettle of boiling water. Manure was the fertilizer of choice. They had a chest freezer that held beef, pork, and chicken, but this was before the use of freezers for produce. She canned and preserved the extra crops so that they would have them in the winter time.
I just grated my abundance of zucchini and put some in the freezer, and made my 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th loaves of zucchini bread for The Table. More produce will get blanched and frozen as the summer progresses since we have the space to save it. I have tried making jams and dill pickles without much luck. These are old skills that helped people survive during the winter.
Thursday, I took a trip out to Massaponax High School to see the Food Bank’s mobile pantry in action. They make 10 monthly stops to areas that are food deserts. What struck me about what they had available was that most of it was shelf-stable because the people they serve live in camps, motels, mobile homes without a lot of refrigeration. How do we preserve the summer’s abundance in a way that we can hand it out over the winter months when we don’t have access to local fresh produce? At St. George’s, we probably could freeze some of it, but we would need a lot more freezer space and hands to prepare it. There has been talk of setting up a commercial canning/preserving facility that farmers could bring their excess crops to rather than composting them. A win/win situation for farmers and consumers. Just think how many more people we can give healthy food that doesn’t rely on electricity!