With our bounty of freshly harvested grapes, we gathered back at the Cowan Community Center to begin our jam making process on Thursday. Folks had picked ten pounds of grapes while on our visit to Mountain Rose Vineyard. Not all came back with a full ten pounds, did I mention the grapes were really sweet.
This was our sixth canning session for the season, so folks are pretty comfortable with each other and the routine. Most of the participants who were here either came for the company or just needed a little guidance on the process or as we realized afterward, to HELP someone who needed a hand. That was a particularly sweet revelation and one we want to encourage and find more opportunities for our participants to “help” each other.
Most of our participants left the canning session with one dozen jars of grape jelly and one dozen jars of grape juice. The grape juice makes for a nice celebration. I opened a jar to celebrate the conclusion of the booth at the Mountain Heritage festival. It was sweet. Some of our participants opted to fix theirs on their own at home, but needed our jars, sugar and sure jel. It’s very nice to be able to offer these items to folks who may need them. During our canning sessions we’ve canned over 1,250 jars of garden or fruit goodness.
We had special guests at this canning session, as LKLP Headstart students came by for a visit. All got to taste our fresh grapes, learn about a vineyard and the process for making grape jelly.
Some helped out with the straining and brought an element of excitement to our session.
I’m a retired school counselor, so I was comfortable with our guests, but realized I did something with this group I’d never done in the classroom before, or at least not seriously. We talked about being a “farmer” when you grow up. In my years of career counseling, being a farmer was not always an option that I encouraged as I should have. “Shame on me.” However, it is exciting now to talk to these children and believe a few could make a living farming here in Letcher County if we “grown ups” make the right strategic moves now.