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Home > Food Preservation Articles, Reviews, & Buyers Guides > Appreciation for Home-Grown Goodness

Appreciation for Home-Grown Goodness  Item Number: appreciation-for-home-grown-goodness

Although most people associate Thanksgiving with the pilgrims, the tradition of giving thanks for a prosperous harvest dates back to Biblical times. This ancient tradition of giving thanks and sharing food with friends takes on deeper meaning for those who grow and preserve their own food. For this month of Thanksgiving, we asked some home preservers to share their thoughts about why they take the time to grow and preserve food.

How long have you grown/preserved your own food, and what type foods do you grow?

• Herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, greens, lettuce, green beans, blueberries, plums, pie cherries and grapes for the past 27 years. – Pat, 66, retired Management Analyst, HQ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

• I primarily harvest foods and herbs from the wild, 10 years. – Laine, 37, novelist

• We have fruit orchards, berries, grapes, and we grow a vegetable garden, 12 years. – Mary Ann, 49, teacher

• Tomatoes, pole beans, three kinds of peppers, radishes, cantaloupe, lettuce, cucumbers, 30 years. – Pam, 50, Practice Administrator, Pediatrics

• Herbs, blueberries, figs, apples, tomatoes, eggplant. – Ann, 51, Librarian

• Tomatoes, chilly peppers, zucchini, squash, green beans, basil, cilantro, 1 year. -Mariela, 30, magazine writer/editor

• For summer - string beans, Irish potatoes, scallions, squash, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant. For fall—onions, collards, broccoli, kale, mustard. Also blueberries, figs, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, beans, okra, squash. – Edna, 85, retired

How did you learn preserving techniques?

• I learned to can by a Sunset book on canning and by asking questions of local farm wives - Pat

• Half book/internet research, half taught by other people – Laine

• Grandmother – Mary Anne

• Book – Ann

• As a child I grew up with a widowed mother with six children who planted
a large garden, growing most of what we ate. Each child helped with the work
involved. It was a chore then but I learned a lot. - Edna

What do you see as the greatest benefit to growing/preserving your own food?

• Knowing that it is pure, safe food and free of chemicals and preservatives – Pat

• LACK OF TERRIBLE, AWFUL, POISONOUS PRESERVATIVES! Properly preserved food enjoys the same shelf life as food ruined by additives. - Laine

• The quality of the food, the variety, and the cost – Mary Anne

• By far, TASTE – Pam

• Just watching the food grow, specialize, take shape, mature, age, droop, turn to seed, whatever. No matter what else is going on in the world, the cycle is consistently comforting to observe - Ann

• For me, the biggest benefit is in a spiritual sense. From the planting of the tiny seeds with my bare hands, to the conversations with them when they are an inch tall, to the weeding, to the harvest, every part is meditative to me. That connection with the earth, watching life sprout right in front of my eyes, is all very fulfilling - Mariela

• Gardening is no longer a chore. It's my hobby, my recreation, my
therapy. The pleasure of being out with nature, enjoying the freshness and
sweetness of the harvest, the money saved, the opportunity of sharing the
surplus. A good sweat is a good thing - Edna

What’s your favorite preserved food to eat?

• Sweet tomato relish which is a family favorite and embraced by many local people - Pat

• Wild-grown sage. Makes a lovely tea, flavors meals, and cleanses the negative energy from any space – Laine

• Peaches, and my jams and jellies – Mary Anne

• In the winter, we enjoy the taste of fresh corn off the cob that we have frozen ourselves. And the peaches and applesauce are like candy. Of course salsa is great too! - Pam

• Our spaghetti sauce - Mariela

• A favorite frozen item is ripe figs -- thaw about 50% --- delicious!! - Edna

What part of the preserving process do you most enjoy?

• I simply enjoy planting seeds or beginning plants and watching it grow. It is nice to be able to step out the back door and harvest the results. I also enjoy sharing the vegetables and fruit with others. Finally, I find that all the activities associated with gardening is so part of southern living - Pat

• Harvesting from the wild. Tramping into the greenways and forests to locate and monitor the harvest's progress connects me to the natural world. You can't buy that in a can - Laine

• When it is all over and the kitchen is clean again! – Mary Anne

• Eating it! - Pam

• Chopping herbs. Why? Anger management perhaps? But also knowing it has taken half the summer to create these essences yet I'll again be reminded of this summer later in the year when using the herbs. – Ann

• I like drying chilly peppers because I hang them on a string by a sunny window and their green, red, and orange colors brighten up my kitchen - Mariela

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s description of success included “to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition.” As one survey respondent wrote, “I choose the garden patch.”

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