Food Commanders, and some other teens, have been busy here at Rural Resources in East Tennessee, mastering pickling. Good morning, Debbie Strickland chiming in on this Sunday morning. Sorry I am a day late, but we have been busy this past week, and a very busy week ahead, but more of that in a few minutes. Food Commanders spent last weekend in our garden learning how to pick cucumbers and corn. Many of the teens have planted these items in their own garden, and had commented a week prior that their corn had tasseled. They were unsure how to tell if the corn was ready to pick and when they would start seeing silks. By the time they came back, those teens said they had silks on. Farmer Melissa took them out to the corn field, showed all the varieties that we had in successive plantings, and began walking down a row of corn that was crying out to be picked! The teens easily picked a bushel with no sweat, but some came out itching from the corn.
Some of the teens went over to the cucumbers and picked a nice bunch for a project Farmer Melissa had planned with them. While picking cucumbers, these melons just jumped out and insisted that I take their picture. They were beautiful just sitting there. We have gotten our first cantaloupe out of the garden this week! It tasted mighty sweeeeet! The teens followed Farmer Melissa back up to our pack out tent, where she pulled out cutting boards and knives. She instructed the teens that they will be making their very own pickles. They began washing and cutting the cucumbers up while Farmer Melissa went looking for some dill and other herbs to add in with the pickles. The teens experimented with the herbs and added them to jars of pickles – some got dill, thyme, and others got oregano. Farmer Melissa then took the jars home and finished processing them. She brought them back yesterday, and each of the teens got to take one home, but they were not to open them for at least a month or two. One teen opened his and said it was very sour. HMMM, I wonder how many will make it to at least one month.
Another group of teens, Silent Farmers, are in their second year of our teen program. They have been learning how to cook and preserve food. This summer they have been working on pickling using the old crocks. They will be demonstrating at our County Fair on how to make sweet pickles. The group is extremely excited to show how, but only one person is willing to talk! This group’s name truly fits them “Silent” Farmers. They have never really been very much for talking. I always wondered if they enjoyed the classes/activities. I would never truly know until one of their parents would tell me that their child goes on and on about what they do and learn! I would always ask if they were sure that it was my activities they were talking about because they are completely quiet during class. The parents would giggle a bit and say they are sure. Now, this summer they have begun talking more, and most of the talking occurs if I have a class later in the day, like 2 p.m. They did tell me my morning classes they are too tired to talk. Hmmm, I said well what about when we have classes after school? They informed me they were too tired from school. So, I will deal with “Silent” Farmers then and know they are having fun!
So what about the busy week and week ahead, and the resurrection? I am so glad you asked! This week, as of TOMORROW, is our local county fair. Last year our teens worked very hard in making a barn display for our information booth. It was the first year we had been represented at the fair for way too many years. This year, we are back, and added new things. About 5 years ago we had a float in our local Christmas Parade. That year teens made some farm art to decorate the float – Ms. Piggy and Bella the cow. Bella, unfortunately, held up for the parade, but fell apart on the trip back to the farm. She has been buried under drip tape in our barn. This year, we decided to resurrect her! The teens and I unburied her and my dad helped them to fix her back up to a new youthful cow! We figured her farm artsy calf we made last year would love to have her momma back!
The teens spent all morning working on Bella, washing Ms. Piggy and her litter of piglets, cutting, and loading all the items for our booth setup. They then came over to the fairgrounds yesterday afternoon and helped to raise the BARN!
This took some time, but what an accomplishment we felt as the barn went up and we began filling the space with all the items that shared the story and mission of Rural Resources. We also set up the next booth over, where we are hosting food preservation demonstrations all week. We have lined up the following: Herbal vinegar, butter, pickles (this will be led by the Silent Farmers!), sauerkraut, apple butter, and jellies/jams. Teens have volunteered to take shifts all week manning the information table and wearing costumes of veggies and animals around the fairgrounds. We have parents, board members, volunteers, and staff who will also be on hand to help the teens at the information table. So, after working nearly 12 hours yesterday, I came home and could not resist the pillow who was calling my name. Then I was back at it earlier today – adding a few finishing touches!