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Encourage food preservation



Margo Davis’ well-stocked celler includes canned venison, fruits and vegetables, not to mention applesauce and jams and jellies. “We save a lot on our food bills and eat much better food this way,” she said. (Photo, Kate Long)

Every year, Margo Davis of Rock Cave preserves a cellar full of vegetables, fruits, and meats. “Most of our great-grandmas knew how to do it all,” she said.

If you freeze, cure, smoke, pickle or otherwise preserve fresh food, you can eat well all year round and save money in the process, she said. “But most people don’t know how to do it anymore. Everyone used to know how. It was handed down from generation to generation. But that chain’s been broken, and it’s a shame.”

Davis is a retired West Virginia Wesleyan teacher. “If I could start a second career, I’d like to teach people how to preserve food,” she said, “I know a lot of people would enjoy it, it would save them a lot of money, and it’s just plain satisfying to eat food you put up yourself.”


Want to get people in your community canning again?



Why not get friends together to preserve and can? (Photo courtesy Potomac Highlands Food and Farm Initiative)

  • Hold workshops: WVU Extension Service nutrition outreach instructors often offer classes that help people learn how to preserve food in a variety of ways.  Or they can supply materials that help you start your own. Contact your county Extension office to brainstorm a plan.
  • Start your own classes. A local volunteer might be willing to set up food preservation classes free or for a fee. Hold them at places where people gather: churches, schools, food pantry.
  • Kitchens might be available through a joint use agreement with a local school.  Or there is a list of community kitchens in West Virginia Local Food Resources at


    Can you do it? (photo of “We can” billboard, Kate Long)

  • Venison processing sessions are popular. WVU Extension offers extensive materials on venison processing that could help you start your own class.  In the fall, Extension offers a Venison 101 meat preservation class.  Contact your extension agent or
  • Put how-to articles about preserving food in the local newspaper: The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a wealth of resources, whether you want to can, freeze, cure, smoke, pickle, sun-dry or otherwise preserve your food.
  • Create a community canning kitchen.  All that’s necessary is a good-sized kitchen and canning equipment. Classes can be offered or the kitchen can be offered to those who know how to can on a sign-up basis.
  • Combine food preservation classes with a community garden program.  Help people grow food, then help them preserve it.  Plan a complete program with your WVU Extension agent. See the community garden page.
  • Add a community hightunnel greenhouse!  Basically a community garden that can be used year-round. See the high-tunnel greenhouse page.

Other resources:


It doesn’t take much space to teach pickling and fermentation. Just spread the materials around a big table, have lots of knives and cutting boards. (Photo courtesy PHFFI)


See these related Try This pages:

healthy cooking, healthy food pantries



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