Webinar: Farm to Community - Harvest Freezing Strategies for Community and School Kitchens

Webinar Information

Presenter(s):  Anna Dawson, Hometown Foods, LLC

About the Session
Are you involved with a school or community garden?  Do you teach food and nutrition, culinary, or food science?  Do you work with community food preservers or food pantries?  Are you an Extension agent working with local producers?  This session teaches people of all ages and talents to produce Freezer Meal Kits and "Heat & Eat" frozen foods using tray freezing and vacuum packaging processes.  A community food processing approach can build a local food system and provide opportunities to grow healthier people where all ages come together to share their interest and expertise focused on local food.  Frozen vegetables, fruits, plus cooked whole grans, cooked dry beans, and savory sauces become stir fry meal, soup or quick bread kits that can be used to produce a healthy frozen harvest.  The presentation will share recipes and process for culinary training.  The resources shared during the session include labels, nutrition analysis, and photos and will document how to create the healthiest, culturally relevant frozen local foods possible.

After the session, attendees will be able to:

  1. Understand the equipment and supplies needed to add freezing and vacuum packing to an existing community or classroom kitchen;
  2. Identify non-meat foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, liquids, and legumes) that follow similar freezing and vacuum packaging steps for a variety of hometown foods using spreadsheets, outlines, and instructions;
  3. Create labels for Freezer Meal Kits and "Heat & Eat" products using pre-designed templates;
  4. Follow safe food processing guidelines and labeling.  

About the Presenter(s)

Anna Dawson has taught Family and Consumer Sciences for 26 years.  After retirement, she became the greenhouse manager at Roxbury Organic Vegetable Farm.  Her passion for local food started as a farm kid, a part time farm operator and continued as a foods teacher; a CSA farm worker and then farmers market food marketer.   She designed a built a 1400 square foot space to house her current Harvest Kitchen concept. The goal was to create the healthiest meals made from small and mid-scale farmers’ unsold produce. Anna has received two grants to support her work.  Her business, Hometown Foods, LLC, supports the creation of the healthiest, highest quality, easy to prepare, and reasonably priced frozen and vacuum packed foods.  Since 2016, she has focused on developing training materials and inspiring others to embrace this food processing approach.  Since 2017, New York schools and soup kitchens are approved to free and vacuum pack harvest items once a HACCP plan is in place.  

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