Here's a new development from the Bay Area: community canning events.
The organizers are hosting an event once a month that brings hundreds of pounds of produce to a local community kitchen. Attendees help with chopping, cooking, and canning at the kitchen and then receive a share of the results at a "pick-up party" a few days later. The group that is putting these on is called Yes, We Can.
They are processing Apricots in June, Cucumbers in July, and Tomatoes in September. Patricipants have the opportunity to buy a "work-share" where they help out with the canning or a more expensive share that does not require work. Not surprisingly, the work shares are sold out and there are still the normal shares for sale. This kind of canning is more valuable as an experience than the canned products gained from participating.
It is intimidating to start preservation from a food safety point of view and I am sure the attendees will get a jump-start on the canning process and have the confidence to continue on their own for the rest of the season. I have seen these types of events in individual homes, but this is the first time I have seen it on a more organized scale.
Maybe your farm can connect with a determined local food advocate to get your produce used in an event like this? I think this is an interesting concept to emulate around the country. It is canning as weekend entertainment; participants attain new skills and a great story to tell as they eat the fruits of their labor this winter.
We've posted about canning in the past:
Nine practical solutions for the consumption of home canned food
Canning is ideology in a jar