Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rural Action News

Nominate Someone Today for a Rural Action Sustainability Award

There is no time like the present to nominate that deserving person, business, organization or agency for the 2008 Rural Action Sustainability Awards. The short nomination form will only take you a few minutes to fill out, and will give that special nominee the recognition and credit they have earned.

We need YOU to help identify and nominate those who are either helping Rural Action achieve its mission of sustainable communities or doing important work in sustainability for our region.

Nominations are due by FRIDAY, JUNE 6 to Cat Fincun at Click Here to download a nomination form. You can email it directly to Cat, or mail it to: P.O. Box 157 Trimble, OH 45782. Or just give us a call: 740-767-4938.

Save the Date: Rural Action's Annual Meeting to be Held July 17
By Cat Fincun, VISTA for Event and Volunteer Coordination

The 2008 Annual Meeting is taking place on Thursday, July 17 at the Tri-County Junior Vocational School in Nelsonville from 6:30-8:30pm. The Annual Meeting is a time for Rural Action's members, staff, and Board of Directors to recognize what we achieved in the past year, reflect, and look toward the future.

The program will include the introduction of the new Strategy for Rural Renewal by Executive Director Michelle Decker, a speaker from the Ohio Governor's Office, election of new board members, and presentation of Rural Action's annual Sustainability Awards.

We hope to see you there! Child care will be provided. Please RSVP and reserve child care by contacting Cat Fincun, 740-767-4938 or

Thank you to The Farmacy!
By Tori Patterson, VISTA Leader

We’d like to give a special thanks to The Farmacy and its patrons who made kind donations to Rural Action in honor of Earth Day. Thanks to a book sale at the local natural and specialty foods store, over $70 was raised for Rural Action and its efforts to promote sustainable development and revitalization in southeast Ohio.

The Farmacy has been a Rural Action business member and a great supporter of our work throughout the years. Make sure you stop by 28 West Stimson Avenue in Athens to pick up some groceries or lunch in the fabulous deli!

Army Corps of Engineers to Present Results of Study
By Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator

On Wednesday, June 25th, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, the Huntington District of the Army Corps of Engineers will be presenting a study on water resource concerns and opportunities in Athens County. The meeting will be held at the Tri-County Joint Vocational Center in Nelsonville, and is being hosted by Rural Action. It will be preceded by a “meet and greet,” with representatives from the Huntington District of the Army Corps of Engineers, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm.

Members of the general public, as well as community leaders, resource professionals, and other stakeholders are urged to attend.

This meeting is part of a larger study focusing on watersheds in five counties of southeastern Ohio, including Athens, Gallia, Lawrence, Scioto, and Meigs. This will be an opportunity for citizens, organizations, and government officials to identify opportunities, and prioritize watershed concerns related to flood damage reduction, ecosystem and environmental restoration, as well as other issues relating to water management.

For more information contact Tom Redfern or Mary Steinmaus of Rural Action, at 740-767-4938, or email, or

Tentatively scheduled meetings in four other counties are planned, although times and locations are subject to change:

Tuesday, June 24, Meigs County, Pomeroy Library, Pomeroy, Ohio. 4 pm, meet and greet, 6:30 pm presentation.

Thursday, July 10, Gallia County, CH McKenzie Ag Center, Gallipolis, Ohio. 4 pm meet and greet, 7 pm presentation.

Tuesday, July 29, Sioto County, New Boston Community Center, New Boston, Ohio. 3 pm meet and greet, 6:30 presentation.

Thursday, July 31, Lawrence County. 3 pm meet and greet, 6:30 presentation.

Think Strawberries!

Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture VISTA Bob Fedyski would like to remind you that it’s strawberry season. Many local venues will be providing this nutritious and delicious summer treat. Check out your local farmers’ market, or stop by the Chesterhill Produce Auction on Thursdays at 4 pm to buy strawberries in bulk. Below, you will find information provided by OSU Extnesion’s fantastic resource website, OhioLine that will help you freeze your berries so you can enjoy local fruit year-round.
Freezing fruits is simple and easy. Freezing costs more than canning or drying but preserves more nutrients and a fresher flavor, if done properly. Freezing does not completely destroy bacteria, molds, and yeasts, but it does retard their growth. As soon as food is thawed, microorganisms may continue to grow. Natural enzymes in fruits cause flavor, color, texture, and nutritive value changes. Freezing slows enzyme activity but does not stop it. You can prevent enzyme browning in light-colored fruits by treating them with ascorbic acid and other commercial products.

Selecting and Washing
Fully ripe fresh fruits lose quality rapidly after harvesting. Harvest only an amount you can preserve within a few hours; otherwise, refrigerate, then freeze as soon as possible. Choose fully ripe, but firm, fruit. Underripe fruits may be bitter. Freeze soft, very ripe fruits as purees. To thoroughly remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticide residue, wash all fruits in cold water. Drain and rinse several times with cold water. Lift fruits from water to prevent redepositing of dirt and residues. Do not let fruits soak.

Air leads to flavor loss or off flavors. If moisture evaporates, frozen food becomes dry, tough, and may develop grayish spots called "freezer burn." To prevent air exposure and moisture loss, use only moisture-proof, vapor-proof packaging designed for freezing. Examples are "can or freeze" glass jars, plastic freezing containers, heavyweight aluminum foil, plastic-coated freezer paper, and polyethylene wraps and bags. Only sealing tape designated for freezer use will adhere at freezing temperatures. Place freezer bags in rigid containers for easy stacking.
Pack fruit and syrup tightly in freezer bags or rigid containers. Squeeze air from bags before sealing. Leave 1/2-inch headspace for expansion in rigid containers. Whole berries may be frozen in a single layer on a tray until nearly solid. Package at once. Label and date product and return it to freezer.

Because water in fruits expands during freezing and breaks cell walls, thawed fruits may leak juices and be soft. To retain quality, freeze fruits quickly at lowest possible freezer setting. Freeze only 2 to 3 pounds of food per cubic foot of available storage space in 24 hours.

Maintain freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or less. If power fails, keep freezer closed; food should stay frozen 24 to 48 hours. If available, protect food with 25 pounds of dry ice per 10 cubic feet of freezer space. Food can safely be refrozen if it still contains ice crystals. Some loss of quality and food value will occur. Keep an inventory and use oldest foods first. The more food you put into your freezer in a year, the less the operating cost per pound. Use frozen fruits within one year. Citrus fruit and juices should be used within 6 months.

Defrost fruit in its original package in one of these ways: at room temperature in a pan of cool water, in a microwave oven, or in the refrigerator. Serve fruit with a few ice crystals still remaining. Completely thawed fruits will be limp or mushy and may discolor.

Directions for Freezing Strawberries
1. Wash and sort fruit. Discard poor quality pieces. Remove caps. Work with small quantities. Pare and remove blemishes. Leave whole, slice, or puree.
2. Treat washed and sorted fruit with ascorbic acid (available at drugstores, 1 teaspoon = 3 grams). Add crystalline ascorbic acid to chilled syrup just before using or follow manufacturer's directions if using other anti-darkening products.
3. Pack with sugar or syrup or leave unsweetened (dry). Unsweetened fruits lose quality faster than sweetened fruits. Sugar helps fruit retain its flavor, color, and texture, but is not necessary to preserve fruit safely. Artificial sweetener can also be added to fruit prior to freezing.
Syrup pack--Cover berries in container with a cold 50 percent syrup, seal, and freeze.
Sugar pack--Mix 3/4 cup sugar to 4 cups berries, stir and let stand 15 minutes. Pack, seal, and freeze. May use dry or tray pack to freeze for unsweetened berries.

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