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Food processing center begins season
Area growers preserve produce for the winter
Food Processing pic 1
Shirley Burnett, Bridget McCullough and Kim Gooch preserve poultry in sealed jars at the Dawson County Food Processing facility, July 18. Dawson County Food Processing Director Reggie Stowers said that there’s room for mistakes when first putting food into jars for preservation; however, once the jars go into the pressure cooker, everything has to be done just right. “We follow a USDA chart for the length of time each jarred good must be cooked,” said Stowers. - photo by Adam C. Stapleton

The Dawson County Food Processing facility is open for business, allowing local and area growers the opportunity to preserve their produce for the upcoming winter season.

This marks the 31st year of operation for the facility, which first opened in 1977 under the direction of Lloyd Harben and Aurther Gilreath.


Since 1982, Dawson County High School Agriculture Instructor Reggie Stowers has served as the facility’s director.


Funded by the Georgia Department of Education and the Dawson County Board of Education, Stowers said the facility offers area growers the chance to pressure cook and preserve in jars everything from poultry and tomatoes, to green beans and corn.


“We preserve meat and produce in jars at the small fee of 28 cents per jar,” said Stowers.

Stowers added that the facilities secondary function is to instruct farmers, gardeners and students in safe food preservation methods.


Stowers said most customers come from Dawson, Forsyth and Lumpkin counties, but that he has also seen people come from as far away as Rome.


“We’ll have anywhere from 150 to 200 people come in every season,” said Stowers.


Facility customers begin the process of jarring their goods by washing them thoroughly, then pouring boiling water over them.


“The boiling water kills most of the bacteria,” said Stowers.


Stowers then takes on the task of cooking the jars in one of the facility’s pressure cookers

for 25 minutes at 240 degrees Fahrenheit.


“This will kill off Botulism. If you kill Botulism, you pretty much kill anything else that might be there also, Salmonella, E. coli,” said Stowers.


The food processing facility is located on Tiger Circle, behind the Dawson County school bus depot, and is open from 7 a.m. to noon through July 24 and during the same hours July 28-31.


For more information, contact Reggie Stowers at (706) 265-0153 or the Dawson County Board of Education at (706) 265-3246.


E-mail Adam C. Stapleton at