Category Archives: Canning

The Lost Art of Self-Reliance

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Knowing how to sew and make one’s own clothes is one step toward being self reliant; knowing how to grow and preserve one’s own food is another. My grandmother grew up in the post-depression era, and her family was heavily impacted by the Great Depression. They learned how to take care of themselves.

There were many skills that were deemed necessary for survival, but the most important was, as my grandmother said, “all of them.” One of the great many skills that my grandmother utilized quite heavily was the art of sewing and cloth making. She used to, and still continues, to make her own clothes and quilts. It is not a skill that one forgets when it is used to survive the harsh times; the clothes that she makes represent a lifetime of fending for one’s self. The stitchings in her work show a level of mastery that can only be rivaled by the modern mass made sewing machines. The amount of time and art that is put into the making of her clothes shows a level of determination that has all but disappeared in today’s society.

The life that many Americans lead in these modern times is one of mass production and mass waste. In the Depression Era there was little to no waste, and anything and everything that could be saved was saved and reused later. The amount of things that people were able to use time and time again was tremendous! Some food preservation techniques were advanced and effective. Take the art of canning.  Canning was a very effective method of food preservation. It allowed for things such as jellies and fruits to be preserved for long periods of time without spoiling. Canning was a tremendous breakthrough for the world of food preservation and was utilized by many, many people to save all that they could. My Grandmother is among them.

My grandmother has been described by many as “eccentric” because she does numerous things to prepare for times of crisis, such as growing her own food. The art of growing one’s own food has been around for centuries, and it allows for individuals to be reliant on themselves. This activity today tends to make people think of something that is “unique” or unneeded. Some people tend to rely heavily on the almighty supermarket, oftentimes spending hundreds of dollars just to have food for only a few weeks. However, by raising their own food, like my grandmother, they would be able to eat for months for a rather small amount of money.

My grandmother still uses the skills she learned as she grew up in the Post-Depression Era. She can make her own clothes and her own quilts, she can grow and preserve her own food, and she knows how make it through tough times. She is truly a shining example of self-reliance in the world of today.

Childhood Memories of Gardening

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While growing up in Southwest Missouri, gardening and canning were very important aspects of the early life of Katherine Rowe.

Rowe typically began her mornings by getting up and going out to the garden to check on the vegetables. First, she would pull all of the weeds and pick the ripened vegetables. Then, she would take them in the house, clean them, and set them aside to dry. Meanwhile, her brother would go out and shovel cow manure to be used as fertilizer, which she recalls as “very amusing to watch because he hated it.”

Garden House

Rowe’s family had a very large garden with lots of different vegetables, including things like tomatoes and peas. She said that even though it took a whole row of peas for one bowl, and took a lot of work to harvest them, they still grew the peas. However, she said her favorite part of gardening was probably being able to take a bite of a freshly picked tomato, which she stated was “very delicious. I loved the tart flavor.”

When recalling the difficult aspects to gardening, such as having to plow the garden by hand or having to shovel the dirt, Rowe said that she didn’t like having to pull the weeds, because it was “hard, boring, and time consuming.” She said that even though the hardest jobs were given to the boys, gardening and picking vegetables were still hard jobs for the girls.

PeasRowe said that she enjoyed eating the freshly grown vegetables and loved the fact that she didn’t have to go to the market anytime she wanted fresh vegetables. She said that she still wishes she could have a garden today, and have the pleasure of biting into one of those delicious, tart homegrown tomatoes.

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