Food Day Workshop

You may have seen information in a previous post about the gleaning (don’t you find a striking resemblance between this photo and the one on the flyer :?-) and the food preserving workshop that took place lately. I have been excited about them, as they were the first shared project organized by the Town of Amherst, a group who uses the working name ‘Grow Food Amherst’, and Transition Amherst.

For the gleaning the plan was to meet a the south Amherst village center, and car-pool to the exact location, that turned out to be a satellite field of Brookfield Farm.

My assignment was to carry some of the harvested food home, and bring it to the food day workshop four days later. As you can see I was prepared: I had help from Marianne, and a setup that provided for biking up the hill with lots of load – a big bike trailer, pulled by a tandem bicycle.

On October 20th about 15 of us gathered to visit the field that Brookfield farm opened up for us to do some picking on. Marianne and I left the meeting location early, so we can get to the field in time. We could go right to the field on the long and winding dirt path that led to it. A lot of the vegetables were already picked, but plenty of usable vegetables were still there. Digging for sweet potatoes wasn’t like after five shovel-dips your sack was full, rather testing the field with a shovel here and there, every fifth to tenth time we would find one or more of them, feeling lucky every time the shovel didn’t come up with only dirt. But nevertheless, after an hour we had more than most of us knew what to do with, without serious consideration.

We also picked many smallish heads of red and green cabbages broccoli and cauliflower. We then divided up the harvest between organizations helping those in need, ourselves, and providing food for the sister event of the gleaning, the food Day Preservation workshop.

Cold nights and cool days helped the vegetables stay in good condition, so four days later I loaded up the trailer again. However I didn’t have a helper this time, and I had more stuff to carry, as I needed to take dried food samples, a huge pressure canner, buckets and pre-made sauerkraut to hand out at the workshop. So half-way in the trailer loading process I realized, I will run out of space.

What to do? Normally, I pull the trailer with a strong hybrid bicycle, that is fit to my size well – being tall with long legs that is sometimes hard – so that bicycle already has a trailer hitch attached. But where would I put the rest of the load, that didn’t fit on the trailer?

Well, it is not like I don’t have other strong bikes with load-carrying abilities: although I never used it in this setup before, the Yuba Mundo already saved me a few times in a pinch. So I mounted a hitch onto it, hooked up the trailer, throw the overflow into those large bags, and was on my way only five minutes later than planned.

The workshop was fabulous. Between our very own town Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie, canning expert Peg, organizer Donna and dehydrating and fermentation expert myself, not to mention the enthusiastic and supportive energy of the 23-or-so people attending, we really go things done. Prepped a lot of vegetables, cooked a soup, canned it, shredded most of our cabbage and used a large portion to make sauerkraut, and learned about the various techniques of preserving. Oh yes, we also tasted dried fruit and vegetables, ate some of the soup, tasted the kraut that I made a few weeks earlier, some even fell in love with it and took some home. Both event went great, as the pictures below show it.

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