As the homesteading and sustainability movement grows larger every year, a basic class in Canning and Preserving is just what your community library needs. Besides Raising Your Chickens and How to Live Off the Grid classes, canning and preserving is a hobby anyone can do in their home, with a minimal amount of cost. In other words, anyone can make homemade pickles!
For this class, find someone who has extensive experience in home canning; in water bath and in pressure cooker techniques. One of the best resources to find an instructor is the community itself. A resource that is not always utilized is the Master Food Preservers for your county or state. Masters are required to give at least 20 hours volunteer time per year to public outreach. Check with your state’s Extension program. Chances are there is a Master Food Preserver in your area.
The class should go over the specifics of how to preserve your garden harvest using the hot water bath method, pressure canner techniques, drying, and freezing. Bring in a variety of pots and other equipment that can be used for canning. Outsource your books: utilize your library system’s collection and bring in books on canning, preserving, fermenting, and homesteading for a table display. Offer your patrons who can’t make the class, or those who attend further reading.
There are online resources available for the novice preserver or the experienced one. YouTube has many videos from reputable sources. One resource that can greatly improve a class is the Ball Canning’s website. Their Canning 101 video and pdf printouts are invaluable. It will help you save time writing out your own notes and, as the video is in the public domain, your presentation is already set. This is a virtually no cost class presentation, perfect for adult continuing education.
If your library has its own seed library, this is a great program to help promote it. For those libraries that have one, or even a community garden, the best way to promote growing is by showing patrons what they can do with their harvest. Cooking classes or demonstrations are also effective ways to show people what they can grow in their garden and what to do with it when it’s time to harvest.