Vela Farms teaches preserving techniques at Jackson County Master Gardeners program

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

May 20, 2014 at 12:20 a.m.

Extend the life of your garden's bounty by preserving the harvest.

The Jackson County Master Gardeners will host a Come Grow with Us seminar Thursday with the help of Sara Vela, owner of Vela Farms.

"We have all these beautiful gardens, and we all want to use what we're growing," Vela, 45, said.

Her class, titled "Preserving the Harvest," will include different techniques and alternative methods of preserving the produce from the garden or found at the grocery store.

She'll show attendees how to prepare fresh salsa and preserve it by canning it. Attendees will go home with a recipe and are encouraged to take notes and ask questions during the demonstration.

"We think it's incredibly important to be as self-sufficient as we possibly can given our circumstances," Vela said. "We just have a great passion for helping folks do that."

She's been running her business, Vela Farms, which produces jams, jellies, seasonings, marinades and other natural gourmet foods, for two years and has been practicing canning and other preserving techniques for about two decades.

Vela said the process is very hands-on and admits it's a learning process of trial and error.

"We'll show you how easy it is. It's not that intimidating once you see someone do it," she said.

Even if attendees aren't interested in the gardening portion or don't have a garden of their own, Vela encourages anyone to attend who is interested in canning.

People can easily buy produce and use it for canning or freezing to use later - especially with the state of the economy and food costs rising. She said it's a subject anyone can learn.

"We've got plenty of farmer's markets; they could purchase produce and can it. They don't have to actually grow a garden for this to be beneficial," Vela said.

She also said the information in her class can be applied all year long.

"I do it all year," she said. "But working with what's in season is the most economical."



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