Help Save the PUC Forest and Have a Delicious Snack Too!
Posted on August 3, 2017 by pucadmissions
PUC is on a quest to permanently protect, preserve, and manage over 850 acres of the college’s forestland by purchasing a conservation easement. The PUC Forest Fund was created to help raise money for the easement, and faculty, staff, students, and alumni have rallied around this effort. Enter black(40)berry jam, a business endeavor started by PUC professor Chantel Blackburn and librarian Katharine Van Arsdale, along with professor Maria Rankin-Brown, and Judy Ness, a counselor at the college’s career & counseling center. The goal of black(40)berry jam is to help raise money for the PUC Forest Fund.
We asked Dr. Blackburn to answer a few questions about the business, and why PUC’s property is worth preserving.
Where did the idea to sell jam come from?
I grew up picking blackberries in the summer and making blackberry pies. As I was picking blackberries on campus this summer for my first pie of the season, I realized there were going to be quite a few available to pick as they continued to ripen. I had done fundraisers in high school selling apple pies and that was a lot of work, but freezer jam seemed like an easier way to appeal to folks who might be interested in supporting a fundraising effort for the PUC forest. I didn’t feel like I could do it on my own but ran the idea past a friend, who suggested I contact two back 40 supporters, Maria Rankin-Brown and Judy Ness, who might be able to help me get things up and running. They’ve helped support the effort financially, with berries, and with the inspiration for the name! I still needed help making the jam so I contacted Katy Van Arsdale, who graciously agreed to help transform the berries into jam and fill the jars!
Chantel Blackburn and Katy Van Arsdale making black(40)berry jam.
Where in the back 40 are you picking the blackberries?
We’ve been picking blackberries mainly around the apartments and the airport. Maria also contributed about around a gallon of berries from bushes near her home, also on PUC property.
How long does it take for you to make the jam?
I think the most time-consuming part of making jam is picking and washing the berries. Picking about 14 cups typically took me about two hours and washing them (first in a solution of white vinegar and water then rinsed and dried) took at least another hour. We’ve picked between six and seven gallons of berries. Once that was done, Katy and I spent about 1.5 hours making our “first-run” of 36 jars (4 oz each) of jam. Now we know how the process works, it shouldn’t take us long to make the rest. We have enough berries, sugar, and pectin to make at least 120 jars total.Why did you choose to donate the profits to the PUC Forest Fund?
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, my paternal grandparents were always caring for their trees; I remember visiting during the summer in Oregon and playing with my brother and cousins for hours in the large wooded area behind their house and later exploring their 21-acre dream retirement property in Washington where they maintained their own forest and trails. I think their love of the forest modeled for me how important it is to be a steward of the land, and forests in particular, so supporting the PUC Forest Fund was a cause that really resonated with me.
Supporting the PUC Forest Fund is really intimidating due to the amount of money that needs to be raised for the conservation easement. I wanted to create an opportunity for people to feel like they could contribute even a small amount and still make a difference–and together I think we can! We’re using wild blackberries growing right here on PUC land to make our black(40)berry freezer jam. It seemed like creating a special product that was made from this natural PUC resource and could be shared with others was a perfect way to support the college’s forest conservation efforts.
What do you appreciate the most about PUC’s forest land?
For me, the PUC forest has provided a number of opportunities for me to build community and fellowship with friends while hiking the trails on Sabbath afternoons. Now that I’ve moved to a home in Veteran Heights, I appreciate the forest is basically my backyard!
How can someone buy a jar of jam?
We’re asking for a minimum cash donation of $4 for each 4 oz jar of black(40)berry jam and giving 100% to the PUC Forest Fund. I’ve been taking reservations for jam on Facebook (e.g. Angwinville) or by email (email@example.com) and making arrangements to get it picked up–ideally at the College Market when I am there. I’m planning to have a table set up at the College Market on Fridays (12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and Sundays (11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) until the end of August or the jam is gone, whichever comes first. If the jam isn’t gone by the end of August I’ll probably look at bringing it out again as the winter holiday season approaches.
Want to support the PUC Forest Fund but can’t make it to Angwin to get your own jar of black(40)berry jam? You can still donate at puc.edu/give