The solar dehydrators, which were built by Bill, were constructed with on-line plans. The dehydrators measured about 4’ x 3’ with a depth of about 6”. The Carriere’s had four which are put into use as soon as the vegetables and fruit are ripe for the picking. The produce is then sliced uniformly for placement into the dehydrator; this process takes about 48 hours to attain product for storage. Fruits which have been blended in a food processor are dried in a pan to obtain fruit leathers. I tasted samples of tomato and strawberry leathers and dried sliced apples and pears. They were very good and naturally sweet.
There were several work stations involved in cider pressing. Firstly the apples needed to be picked from the tree. I picked a couple of bushels myself having to give the odd swat to “lady bug looking” bugs trying to eat the apples and giving me the odd nip in protest for taking away their lunch. These were then taken to a washing station where a few people were set up to wash and cut the apples for pressing at the cider press. The juice ran from the press into a bucket through a towel which acted as a filter, which was then taken to the kitchen for canning. Fresh samples of the juice were absolute sweetness.
The last work station involved half a dozen folks gleaning bean pods from the vines; in to a bucket to be taken to the crew for shelling, then to the kitchen for dividing between jars for storage. The beans were bright, beautiful and provided inspiration for a homemade soup or salad.
We were also introduced to a beautiful specimen of chicken, bred for colder climates, the Gold Laced Wyandotte. These were housed in a fenced enclosure, with the shade of an expansive apple tree. The fenced area also included a chicken tractor (meaning an enclosure for the chickens on wheels which can be easily moved by hand) which safely housed the chickens in the evening from predators such as foxes.
Apart from learning about these activities which put healthy nutritious food on our tables, I noticed something else….conversation, community. While the group was shucking the beans, there was a circle to converse, laugh and support. The group of five cleaning and pressing the apples had opportunity for an exchange; an opportunity to listen and to be heard. There was real interaction. A supportive community was being birthed in the process.
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