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Thomson High cannery continues summer tradition

For 17 years, Jersey Johnson has taught agriculture at Thomson High School. Every summer, Mr. Johnson gets canned. The next school year, he's teaching again.

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Mr. Johnson (right) and Bobby Jump, a senior at THS who has worked at cannery for two years, work with string beans.

Mr. Johnson runs the Thomson High School cannery which is part of the Vocational Agriculture Program with the Georgia Department of Education. The cannery, one of 36 in the state, provides small farmers and home gardeners with a place to economically can their harvest.

"(The cannery) is just a community service, we don't make a profit. ... We make enough money to buy cans for the next year. ... We are fortunate to have one in this county," Mr. Johnson said.

A 12-ounce can of Del Monte green beans costs $1.07 at Wal-Mart. A bushel of green beans from "The Garden" produce stand on Main Street costs $25 and a case of 12-ounce mason jars from Wal-Mart costs $8.47. The total cost to purchase and can the beans yourself at home is approximately $1.34 per can.

The cannery charges 40 cents per can, plus 10 cents per pound of beans, which totals less than 41 cents per 12-ounce can of home-grown beans. The cannery is economics anyone can appreciate.

"I've always gardened. This is the first year I've used the cannery. I'm not good at canning, and string beans don't keep well in the freezer," said Jeannine Stevenson. "...It's cheaper because we've already got the beans...I've tasted one can, and they're delicious."

Mrs. Stevenson said she has "put up 66 cans of string beans" so far. Next she plans to take her field peas to the cannery to be shelled so she can freeze them. Mrs. Stevenson said she hopes to freeze 60 bags of peas, "and that's a lot of shelling for one person."

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Jersey Johnson seals a can after removing it from a steamer, where the cans are heated to 165 degrees.

Before taking her vegetables to the cannery, Mrs. Stevenson said she first checked out the facilities, "I asked a lot of questions when I first went in there...they are real nice people, and I was surprised with how clean it is in there."

In addition to Mr. Johnson, the cannery employs three agriculture students from Thomson High School who work four hour shifts. It takes one hour and fifteen minutes to can most vegetables. Most patrons drop off their produce, then return later to pick it up. Produce should be cleaned and cut, ready for canning.

"Just bring clean vegetables, and we can take it from there," Mr. Johnson said.

GET CANNED

The Thomson High School Cannery is located on White Oak Road SE between the McDuffie Animal Shelter and the McDuffie Recreation Department. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. For more information, contact Jersey Johnson at THS 595-9393 ext 4247.



Web posted on Thursday, July 14, 2005











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