Home gardens cover 1980

Cover from the 1980 extension circular “Home Vegetable Gardens in Arkansas.”

The University Libraries have many databases and digital resources collections available, even with our campus closed and students and faculty working from distant locations. (There is a great introduction to distance resources for research during COVID-19.) Here is an exploration of just one collection of digitized materials from the Libraries, available whether you can visit us in the person or need to work with great resources remotely.

The adjustments we are all making because of coronavirus and the global pandemic are challenging. But this also presents opportunities to start new projects at home and find new ways to use the resources we have to stay healthy and productive. The Libraries have been digitizing things just for you! And digital resources available in Libraries exhibits and collections are ready—remotely—to help and make quarantine a little more interesting.  

With the CDC and state recommendations for social distancing and the changes in how we all work and learn, we are all also thinking about where our food comes from and how to make sure we have fresh, good food for ourselves and our families. Arkansas has a long tradition of homesteading and self-sufficiency. What better way to ensure good food than to grow it yourself? The Cooperative Extension Services at the University of Arkansas have been publishing information on food production and preservation for more than 100 years! Always seeking ways to help Arkansans, farmers or not, the Extension website is currently full of useful information about Covid-19.) From the scientific to the practical, Extension Circulars have a wealth of information waiting for you to explore and put into practice as part of your new homesteading adventure.  

Here are some suggestions for finding pamphlets for your new homesteading lifestyle in the Arkansas Extension Circulars—digitized and made free to the public in their entirety by the University Libraries—to get ideas about growing, harvesting, preserving, and cooking food for you and yours!   

Pro Tips 

  1. Each article you find searching digital collections can be downloaded by clicking the download arrow in the upper right corner.
    Download button in digital collections
  2. Follow all the linked data, such as subject terms, to find more pamphlets related to your area of interest. 

Linked subject terms in digital collectionsHome Gardens 

Mother and children working in their home garden, ca. 1940. From the Dorris Vick Home Demonstration Club archive in Special Collections (MC 961).

While searching for a very specific term such as “home garden” only produces a few results… one of those, Home Vegetable Garden in Arkansas, appears to be a perfect return. It sports an attractive hand-illustrated cover and, being published in 1979, has great information still very relevant for today’s beginning gardeners. By broadening our search to just “garden*” among items published by the extension offices, we get more than 30 publications covering more than 70 years of agricultural extensions knowledge. (The * helps get every related words with varying suffixes.) From how to plan your planting, battle pests, and save seeds for next year, there are pamphlets to help you all the way. 

Canning and Preservation 

There are 87 returns on a simple search for “canning” in the Libraries’ digital resources. Most of those returns are for complete scans of pamphlets published by the Arkansas Extension Circulars. Other pamphlets were produced by the 4-H clubs of the state.  

African American Woman Canning Tomatoes

Extension circular number 335 from 1935 shows an African American Arkansas woman demonstrating canning techniques.

Using the metadata in the records, you can find more related and specific items. For instance, by following the search term “canning and preservation,” we can find the 1944 pamphlet, “Methods for Preserving Tomatoes.”  

Of course, canning is a labor intensive practice with a steep learning curve, despite its great benefits (and historical importance). Freezing vegetables and other home garden products is the more likely choice to modern homesteaders. The Agricultural Extension Services in Arkansas have provided guidelines and suggestions for freezing the fruits of your garden labors since the 1940s. Pamphlets were revised and reissued periodically to keep the information both readily available and up-to-date. 

1961 Home Freezing Pamphlet

Cover of the 1961 Home Freezing pamphlet from the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Services.


1975 Home Freezing pamphlet

Updated 1975 Home Freezing pamphlet.


Home freezing guidelines

Home freezing guidelines and shelf lives, provided in the 1975 Extension Circular.

Raising chickens 

These days, when authorities advise limiting all trips, even to the grocery store – have you started thinking about raising chickens and getting your own eggs from home? Well, think carefully about your entry into “poultry culture,” as it was termed in the 1914 pamphlet. “Feeding Hens for Eggs” from 1933, while geared toward those hoping to profitably take eggs to market, includes helpful advice for the home chicken farmer such as ideal formulas for laying flocks.  

1930 egg layer feed formula

Recipe for feed to help hens lay better eggs, from a 1933 Extension Circular.

Generations of 4-H members and students have developed expertise raising chickens, and there are numerous circulars published over the year to help produce eggs, rise chickens for competition, and judge the best chickens around.  

If you really get excited about animals and home food production, you could look into dairy cows and how to prepare “recipes” to maximize milk production! 

Cooking at Home 

There are Extension Circulars to help once your garden delights are ready to eat or be released from the cans or freezers. Five pamphlets look specifically at cooking vegetables. Several pamphlets suggest techniques for cooking your frozen and preserved food. 

1958 Meals in Minutes pamphlet

This 1958 extension circular offers techniques for making home coking more efficient with frozen meals.

“Meals in Minutes from Your Freezer” from 1958 includes the objectionable gendered norms of its time, aiming its suggestions to the harried wives too busy away from the house to always have hot meals ready. The pamphlet’s suggestions about how to prepare meals in advance to relieve the stress of incessant cooking for a household are still helpful, especially as many of us find ourselves trying to keep a home of cooped up people happy and well-fed.    

Bon Appetit!