Ready U to address harvesting, storing garden produceWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring planting season is just around the corner, but an upcoming Ready U session will help area gardeners think ahead to harvest time, including safe handling of produce and what to do with an overabundant crop.
Directed toward home and community gardeners, “Using Your Victory Garden” will focus on food safety tips for the garden and kitchen as well as food preservation options, said Lee Richter, program assistant in urban horticulture with the Ohio State University Extension office in Lucas County. Also presenting will be Patrice Powers-Barker, program assistant in family and consumer science with the OSU Extension office.
The free, hour-long session is set for 7 p.m. April 30 at The Andersons Activity Room, 1833 S. Holland-Sylvania Road in Maumee. The presentation will be the final Ready U event of the season.
Ready U, a yearlong series presented by the Red Cross of Greater Toledo and the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, is designed to educate the public and prepare individuals and families for potential emergencies in Northwest Ohio.
“It certainly is that time of year when everyone is getting excited about vegetable gardening,” Powers-Barker said. “We’ll be looking a little at what’s going on immediately as well as what will be happening a few months out.”
Richter will share tips on food safety and preparation, while Powers-Barker will discuss preservation options, including canning, drying and freezing.
The session will cover the basics and discuss community resources where gardeners can find more in-depth information and instruction.
“We just want to give an overview so people can decide what will work best for their own gardens and kitchens,” Powers-Barker said.
One safety tip, for example, is to always wash your hands before handling plants or produce in a garden, RIchter said.
“People don’t think before they go out to work in the garden they should wash their hands, but it’s really important,” Richter said. “Making sure of sanitation and cleanliness, even when working in a garden, is very important, especially when harvesting.”
Smokers, for example, can spread a virus called tobacco mosaic virus to plants by touching them after smoking, Richter said.
Community gardeners are encouraged to bring a bucket of water, soap and towel to wash their hands before and after working in their plot, Richter said.
The session won’t be a tutorial in preservation methods, but rather a discussion of options, Powers-Barker said.
“If it’s a great year for tomatoes, what are you going to do with all those? We will talk about where to share them if you want to donate, ways to prepare them fresh and also preservation,” Powers-Barker said. “We can’t cover everything, because there’s a different between canning green beans and canning tomatoes. It really depends on people’s interests and what they will be preserving, but we will offer an overview and show people where resources are for more information.”
The OSU Extension office promotes gardening as a healthy alternative to fast food and an inexpensive alternative to purchasing produce, Richter said. One of its main functions is connecting local gardeners with community resources.
“Our main purpose is to make people’s lives easier when trying to find answers to questions,” Richter said.
One resource is the Extension’s horticulture hotline, staffed 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. At other times, callers can leave a message that will be returned. The number is (419) 578-6783.
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor for the Ready U program.
Ready U kits containing emergency preparedness materials as well as smoke detectors will be given to the first 50 attendees, said Red Cross Communications Officer Jason Copsey.
For more information, visit ready-u.com.