Peoples Kitchen Detroit holds skill share on tomato canning

October 24, 2011

DETROIT – The preservation of good food choices and the sharing of good relationships are all at heart of what the Cass Corridor Community Commons (CCCC) is all about. Throughout the upcoming months – if not years – friends of the Peoples Kitchen Detroit (PKD) can get a taste of both thanks to a special tomato canning skill share held recently at PKD inside the CCCC space of the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

“Our tomato canning skill share was a great success,” said PKD’s Angela Newsom “We had a wonderful turnout, everyone had a great time and walked away with jars of delicious locally grown tomatoes to enjoy throughout the winter in soups or sauce.”

A skill share is a no-to-low cost way to share time, skills and resources with others in a community. People with varying degrees of knowledge on a particular subject - in this case, canning tomatoes - come together to work on a project. This provides an opportunity for those with no or little knowledge to learn a new skill and ask questions of seasoned veterans. It also allows for those who know the skill to expand their knowledge with new techniques or ideas. Relationships are built and communities are strengthened through working together and sharing resources.

The diverse group attending the tomato canning skill share were EMEAC Associate Director Lottie Spady, who is also an administrator of the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce, Candice  Coleman and Kanezia Smith of Creative Community Pathways, Blair Nosan of Suddenly Sauer, Natali Perkins, Priscilla Dziebek of EMEAC’s Greener Schools Program, Carolyn Leadley of Rising Pheasant Farms, Ana Howrani Heeres and Sarah Sidelko of the CCCC’s Fender Bender.

The group set up to process the tomatoes like an assembly line after all the tomatoes were chopped and cooked down in a large pot. The tomatoes were funneled into jars, wiped, lids put on, and placed into a hot water bath. Labels were made including the date, which is very important. The newly transformed tomatoes were then cooled the next day.

Newsom says the event blends well into the work of the CCCC and Detroit Food Justice Taskforce of which PKD is also a founding member.

“These skill-shares fit into the work of both People’s Kitchen Detroit and the Food Justice Task Force in many ways,” she said. “One of the foundations of a community kitchen, like PKD, is the intention to bring people together around food. In addition to this, these skill-shares usually are connected to excess food from farms and gardens around the city, so we’re helping farmers and gardeners move some of their produce.  Through the preservation of this excess food we’re also taking a resource that typically has a short shelf life and preserving it so that it is available during the winter months or when we need it sometime in the future.
“These classes also provide us the opportunity to work together differently and to explore small examples of alternate or new economic models. By pooling our community resources, excess tomatoes, jars and lids, kitchen space and equipment, chopping, cutting and washing dishes, to create an environment where everyone walks away with some food and the know-how to do it again, we inspire new ways of thinking and living that open up new possibilities.”

Of course, sharing with friends is always an occasion for heart felt thanks.

“We are so thankful to everyone who came out to the event and who have supported our work over the last five years,” Newsom said. “We’d also like to thank the 1st UU congregation for the donation of the buildings to the Commons and for welcoming PKD with excitement and open hearts.”