Beans of many varieties are beginning to coming in now. Grow Appalachia participants met at the Cowan Community Center for a bean stringin’ and cannin’ earlier this month. We had about one dozen participants show up with beans in tow to help each other string while we chatted. Kathy Adams, GA participant also did a hands on demonstration with participants. Kathy brought about one bushel beans from her garden, these were a beautiful heirloom bean, know locally as the Coy Fields bean. If this isn’t the correct name, it soon will be as it is becoming a favorite here and seeds being requested by many. We hope to help in that distribution and buy a few seeds for interested participants. This is a larger bean, with a brown seed inside.
Kathy did a good job answering questions and advising the group on safe canning using a pressure cooker. Kathy also had her pressure cooker manual which was 31 years old and relayed stories of the women in her life, sharing their beans, cooker and skills before she began canning independently. At the time of this activity, Kathy had canned over 150 jars of beans and grieved over losing her first jar the day before. Each jar is special and if you are lucky enough to be among the friends who are gifted with one of these make any meal special jars of beans, you are lucky enough.
While the cooker was rockin’ we had some time to spend with participants. Although, most GA participants know each other, our group is growing and each gathering has new faces for some. We took this time to play the coin game, with each participant choosing a coin and then sharing with the group what they were doing at that time in their life. All seemed to enjoy this and we learned much about each other as we either shared our struggles or triumphs as we reflected on years gone by. One participant was particularly inspiring as she talked of her year, 2013. She shared the ups and downs of the year, but ended with this being the year she became involved in Grow Appalachia and the renewed effort in her garden along with new friends and activities.
Our program allotted money to purchase a few pressure cookers each year. This year two participants received a new pressure cooker, and hopefully they will use for many cannins’ to come. I know one of our younger participants, a new mother has canned 21 jars of beans so far. She read the directions ten or more times, but with the experience from the GA program and tools in hand, she DID IT.
After beans were broken and waiting on the final batch, we all settled down for lunch. Kathy had prepared a kettle for us to enjoy along with cornbread and a fresh tomato. There was a worry for a moment, when we realized we had no butter, but Bobby Adams assured us that this ONE time we would be alright without butter. He was right. It was nice to move our tables together, give thanks and enjoy lunch together.
Participants left with their own jars, canning salt, canning kit and experience to handle their own beans at home. Canning kit included a jar lifter, funnel, magnetic stick and jar filler (I’m making some of these words up.)
This was another good day for our community. Thank you to those who see the value in growing gardens and communities.