Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Volunteers working on a plan to keep doors open at Hernando's Little Rock Cannery

The Little Rock Cannery is a self-serve facility for Hernando County residents to prepare and preserve fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats.


The Little Rock Cannery is a self-serve facility for Hernando County residents to prepare and preserve fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats.

BROOKSVILLE — Once facing closure, the Little Rock Cannery has seen a surge of activity recently as a local business group has been working to build partnerships and create a sustainable program.

While the Hernando County Commission agreed to give the Leadership Hernando organization until January to find a way to keep the cannery open, commission members indicated this week they would be willing to fund the program through the end of the fiscal year — Sept. 30, 2014.

A formal vote is expected soon.

The positive review came after Renee Oij, of the Leadership Hernando class of 2013, brought a detailed update about the facility to commissioners Tuesday.

Oij said support for the cannery has been overwhelming and that a task force of volunteers has been working to develop a business plan that will help the cannery thrive.

The facility provides a place for residents to bring their locally grown fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood to prepare and preserve. High-volume commercial equipment is available, and experts are on site to instruct those new to canning.

With the cannery on the verge of closure for several years, an anonymous donor paid the roughly $50,000 operational cost for each of two years, then the county found a private entity to take it over. That operator, the Auroveda Foundation, closed the facility in September, and the county took it back.

The cannery has just 96 members. Of those, 43 paid the $50 annual fee; the rest paid $10 per day.

The county soon found out that one of the boilers needed to be fixed. It was put back into service earlier this month.

The task force has concluded that the cannery needs to be operated like a business. Partnerships, new sources of income and grants will be necessary to make the facility solvent, Oij told commissioners.

The volunteers are working to develop a Friends of the Cannery group to help with support. They also have talked to school officials about building the cannery into the curriculum, have invited local businesses to participate and are working with the county's cooperative extension office and local 4-H clubs.

The school district already has offered grant-writing help. Because of the facility's past, and current operations, Oij said the cannery might qualify for several types of grants — agriculture, historical significance and tourism.

There also has been talk about opening up a shop to sell products produced there. And next week, a representative of the school district's culinary art programs will do a walk-through to see what might need to be done to get the kitchen certified.

In the short term, other marketing strategies are planned. The group plans a membership push. A jam party took place on Wednesday with everyone who participated paying a small fee. The volunteers also plan to make appearances at public events.

On Dec. 7, the volunteers will host a family fun day, and a live radio broadcast and member reception are planned for Dec. 13.

Volunteers working on a plan to keep doors open at Hernando's Little Rock Cannery 11/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 9:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fox renewed O'Reilly contract despite knowing of allegations


    NEW YORK (AP) — The Fox News Channel says the company knew a news analyst planned to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O'Reilly when it renewed the popular personality's contract in February.

    Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly appears on the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel in April following reports that several women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. [Associated Press file]
  2. Conviction overturned 30 years later in neo-Nazi murder case


    TAMPA — A judge on Friday overturned the murder conviction of Dean McKee now that new evidence has raised doubt about McKee's guilt in a Tampa slaying that occurred nearly three decades ago when he was 16.

    In 1987, a St. Petersburg Times reporter interviewed Dean McKee for a story about young skinheads in Tampa. [Times | 1987]
  3. Experts have some theories on who's carrying out Seminole Heights killings


    The words serial killer tend to conjure an image of a middle-aged white man, likely a loner. He stabs or chokes or strangles, murdering up close for the thrill, straight out of central casting.

    A memorial was set up where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found shot to death in Seminole Heights. Some experts who have reviewed information in the case say that whoever is behind the three Seminole Heights killings may live in the area. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  4. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher didn't have an explanation for the turning point in Saturday's 31-28 last-second loss to Louisville.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  5. Funeral starts for soldier at center of Trump fight


    COOPER CITY, Fla. (AP) — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102