What We Do
The Farm Advisor/University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) takes information developed on its University of California campuses and research centers and makes it available to local communities.
UCCE experts also conduct practical research of their own, bringing together the resources and expertise of the University of California and local partners to develop solutions to local problems in the areas of sustainable agriculture, natural resource preservation, and youth and family development.
The County Farm Advisor/UCCE provides an array of research and educational programs in 4-H Youth development, family and consumer sciences, nutrition education, natural resource management, and horticulture or gardening.
What We Did in 2014
New Program Teaches Food Preservation
Alongside the buy-local and farm-to-table movements, the community has seen a resurging interest in food preservation in recent years.
“Food preservation has become something of a lost art and is no longer commonly practiced in the home,” said Dr. Katherine Soule, SLO County Farm Advisor’s youth, families & communities advisor. “As residents have become more interested in home food preservation, there is a need for education on safe food preservation practices.”
To meet this need, the County of San Luis Obispo Farm Advisor launched the Master Food Preserver Program in 2014 as a public service that provides up-to-date information on food safety and preservation to San Luis Obispo County residents who want to learn safe methods of preserving produce from farmers’ markets, local grocery stores, or gardens.
Safe food preservation techniques can help individuals maximize their food resources, reducing waste and ensuring that food is safely preserved for later use. Education on proper freezing and dehydrating techniques are especially useful in meeting the needs of low-income residents who have limited abilities to replace spoiled produce and may receive large quantities of seasonal produce at food distributions.
“Ultimately, this program teaches residents how to reduce food waste, maximize their food resources and create safe, consumable food products,” Dr. Soule said.
The Master Food Preserver Program officially opened in fall 2014 with three certified master food preservers volunteering throughout the county. The first Master Food Preserver training included 11 trainees, who completed extensive training and can now teach residents how to properly and safely preserve their food.
The program has served 168 individuals at various demonstrations and classes. In order to meet community needs, the Farm Advisor has partnered with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County on a USDA Community Food Project grant, which enables them to teach food bank service recipients how to preserve the produce that they receive at distributions.
Though classes are offered throughout the county, the program is based in the UCCE office at 2156 Sierra Way, Ste. C in San Luis Obispo.
“We are excited about the value this program brings to our community and look forward to program growth,” Dr. Soule said.