I have mentioned before that we joined a local food co-op for the first time this year - Sandhills Farm 2 Table. Overall I have been so happy with it. Not only are we privy to a large variety of beautiful, local fruits and vegetables...
But we also have opportunities to buy in bulk! For the last three weeks, Billy Carter Farms (a local farm) has offered 25 lb cases of tomatoes for $11 - $0.44/lb!
One week mom and I split a case, and the next week I purchased a case for a friend. This week it is being offered once again and I think I'm going to do it again even if mom doesn't want to split it with me this time. Tomatoes are not Stephen's favorite food, but I use them all the time in soups and sauces for myself and when cooking for mom and dad, so I want to stock up while I can! Plus, there is always the other advantage of being a member of the co-op...
Canning classes!! Just for being a co-op member I was able to take advantage of a canning class last Saturday at the Agriculture building in Carthage. I had to bring my own tomatoes and $5 to cover "materials". For that $5 I was able to use someone else's kitchen, someone else's equipment, know that I was canning correctly (I never realized how many things can go wrong when you are canning!!), I didn't even have to clean up (but I did offer, mom), and I spent four glorious hours out of the house with six other women who were so much fun! It was actually only supposed to be two hours but there was a glitch with one of the stoves and it took a little extra time. Trust me, I was not complaining. I came home with two beautiful quarts of tomatoes that will last in my pantry for approximately one year.
We spent the whole time laughing and exchanging recipes. I felt really at home with these women, and I loved showing my "granola" side when we shared stories. One woman shared with me how she gets her children (5, 4 and 2) to try new foods, and I shared with her how I switched out the cookies in our church nursery for banana bread (whole-wheat banana bread, no less!) and the kids ate the entire container in one night! I told everyone how easy it is to make peach-applesauce (we tend to get a lot of peaches through the co-op) and one woman actually brought fresh banana bread straight from the oven to class! She used whole-wheat flour as well and advised me on how to use the whole-wheat flour and still have incredibly moist bread.
The co-op offers other classes such as jam-making and things like that. I didn't do those classes because I already make jam, but this was so much fun it makes me think I should do every other class offered, just because!
Check out the website, because they are taking subscriptions for fall boxes. We are not going to do a fall box simply because we would not get our money's worth out of it because of the food selection, but it may work great for you. If you don't sign up for the fall produce, check back in the summer. I will definitely be signing up once again and you should too!!