Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
In Bulloch County’s kitchens, the canning process had four stages: cleaning the produce, blanching the produce, cooling the produce, and then sealing the food in the cans.
The Bulloch Times-Statesboro News-Statesboro Eagle issue of June 14, 1934 announced that “College Cannery Again Operates. Offers service to public same terms offered last season.”
And, “The Community canning plant will again operate at the South Georgia Teachers College, according to President Guy H Wells, who said, “the cannery would furnish the cans and equipment as well as the labor.”
They would charge to process the food and can on a 50/50 basis; this system would permit people that did not care to put money in cans to have a supply of food for winter without any cash outlay whatever.
Peas, beans and butter beans must be prepared at home (and) those having corn, tomatoes, and fruit should prepare these products at the cannery under a trained manager to keep the cost of processing to a minimum.
Furthermore, “Mr. Wells suggests that each customer bring a sufficient amount of equipment to prepare their products at the cannery such as knives, pans, buckets, and tubs.”
“The college cannery is well equipped with two factory retorts, (as there are) a pre-cooker, steam boiler, and other essential equipment, (and) automatic sealers (make) the cannery (an) outstanding model plants.”
The Bulloch Herald of July 2, 1937 announced “Brooklet Cannery in Full Operation.” Supt. J.H. Griffith, vocational teacher at the Brooklet High School, was manager of the plant.
He said, “He would operate on Tuesdays and Thursday, until enough canning came in to run extra days.” Last summer Mr. Griffith helped thousands of cans of fruit and vegetables at the canning plant.
The Bulloch Herald of June 15, 1938 announced the Nevils High School “Canning Plant Opens.” It stated, “All interested in canning are asked to bring their produce ready prepared to the plant on Tuesday and Friday.”
The article stated “cans will be furnished at the rate of 2 cents for the #2 cans, and 4 cents for the #3 cans.” It reminded “You are also asked to bring a cotton cloth sack, salt, and sugar for your vegetables.”
The paper revealed “the building is now temporary but in the near future we are expecting to have a first-class canning plant in the best of a wood structure. Two class rooms will be included in the permanent building.”
The May 21, 1942 Bulloch Herald announced 125,000 cans were available. The school board bought 100,000 #3 cans (4 cups) and 25,000 #2 cans (2.5 cups). They cost $3.50 for 100 #3 cans, and $2.56 for 100 #2 cans.
In the May 27, 1943 edition of the Bulloch Herald, the Board of Education announced schools would open their Home Economics kitchens so local residents could do their canning.
The county school board announced their new kitchens could process some 15,000-20,000 cans per day. The schools processed 140,000 cans during the 1942 harvest, and they hoped to increase the number dramatically for 1943.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.