This past week Grow Appalachia participants came together at the Cowan Community Center to learn safe and tasty jam canning practices from our resident canning expert, Liz Ison. Many women, and a husband and son, showed up early in the morning to take on mountains of peaches, strawberries, raspberries and wine berries (a special berry picked by one of our friends up at the Letcher County Extension Office). With the peaches, raspberries, and strawberries, we made traditional canned jam, setting up an assembly line once our fruit/pectin/sugar concoction was all boiled to put it all in jars and seal them up. With the wine berries however, we made freezer jam. The jam was essentially made the same way as canned jam but instead of canning it, we put it in freezer safe plastic containers which can be kept in the freezer and removed whenever you are in the mood for some biscuits and jam.
In just over three hours, our group made sixty-some jars of jam, sending it home with everybody who came to help and distributing it to some of our older and less mobile participants up and down Cowan. In addition, everybody who came by got to take home some pectin, jars, and biscuit formula so they could recreate our enormous production in their own kitchens. One of our participants brought back supplies for her daughter to make peach jam with; she said that her daughter had several children who would love to help out with the canning process and speed things up for her. Many hands do make light work, as we discovered that day!
One of our less sugary treats for the day was the chance to hear Nell Fields speak to the group. Nell Fields works with a local non-profit called Faith Moves Mountains, which works primarily through the established church communities in Letcher County to implement healthful living programs. Part of a partnership with the University of Kentucky, heir programs aim to research and understand how Kentuckians make decisions about their health, and to encourage healthier decisions. The three main programs in operation now seek to address three things: smoking cessation, cancer screening, and healthy energy-balanced lifestyles. Nell spoke to us primarily about smoking cessation, and the programming that Faith Moves Mountains has available to individuals who are interested in quitting. Through the Cooper Clayton Smoking Cessation program, individuals have free access to motivational videos and patches, and Nell advocated the health benefits of attending these lectures and quitting smoking, and offered the resources of the organization to anybody who had a desire to stop smoking. It was lovely having our very own participant spread the word about available resources to improve health in the county in a setting that was comfortable, intimate, and casual.
To learn more, go to their website! Faith Moves Mountains