Homeland – Silverton artisan aids Ukrainian resistance by making jam

March 2022 Posted in News, People

By Melissa Wagoner

Tasha Huebner feels every bomb that falls on Ukraine like a physical blow. A second generation American of Ukrainian descent, she has long maintained ties to her heritage through extensive travel, a study abroad in the 1990s and even a stint living in the capital city of Kyiv. 

Photos of the time feature a younger, more carefree Huebner, posing next to historic sites that date back hundreds of years as well as the view from her window – the iconic white and teal minarets of St. Andrew’s Cathedral silhouetted against a foreboding sky. 

“It’s a beautiful country,” Huebner said, laying out photo after photo in a collage ode to Ukraine. 

“And these people…” she continued as she laid out a handful of pictures featuring her good friends, Kolya and Nastya Katerinchuk, with tears in her eyes. 

Because the Katerinchuks are a prime example of how the current war with Russia is tearing families in Ukraine apart – Nastya in France with her parents and daughter while Kolya, a lawyer and a member of parliament, now fights with the 126th Battalion for Ukraine. 

“It’s surreal,” Huebner said, shaking her head in disbelief. “Me, myself and everyone who knows would have sworn this would have never happened.”

A blockade in Kyiv

But it is happening and Huebner, despite growing anxiety and sleepless nights finds herself unable to look away.

“I can’t even describe how horrible it is for people who are of Ukrainian descent,” she said. “I’m one of many people who wakes up and checks to see what happened over night and if [President]Zelenskyy is still alive.”

It’s a wait and see attitude that Huebner, who has built her business – an award-winning artisan jam company, The Canning Underground, whose catch-phrase is, “join the resistance” – abhors because there’s a certain level of powerlessness inherent in watching the people and places she loves face constant threat while her life remains largely unchanged. 

“We have insufficient words for the rage we – as second-generation Americans – feel at the attempt to annihilate our Ukrainian homeland,” she wrote on her company’s homepage, where she posted her plans to put aside the haplessness inherent in watching the war from afar by doing the thing she does best – making jam.

“Other than the shipping cost, every cent will go to the battlefront,” she wrote. Adding, “Ukraine thanks the world for their support.”

And thus far the world seems to be listening, as Huebner has already processed an estimated $700 in local sales and over $2,000 in outright donation money in less than a month.

“They’re collecting money for things like radios, thermal vision devices…” Huebner said of the resistance-related items the money – which she sends directly to Kolya, via a Ukrainian credit union account – has been helping to fund. 

But there are other items as well.

“They’re also stockpiling food and water,” she continued, “in case the people still in Kyiv (about two million) are surrounded and stuck…”

Because movement of people and supplies in the war-torn country has been difficult – a fact that has been corroborated by another of Huebner’s Ukrainian friends – coworker, Georgi Dulishkovych – who has thus far, and with Huebner’s help, raised enough money to purchase the first of two supply vehicles that he will send from his home near the border with Poland to the soldiers fighting on the frontlines.

“They’ve bought one and are working on buying another,” Huebner said. “They want something sturdy and strong but not big and obvious –  $7,800 is their goal.”

That’s a lot of jam at only $10 a jar, but Huebner seems far from daunted. In fact, she seems invigorated, relaying stories of the customers who have come knocking at the door of her Silverton home, not so much looking for jam as looking to help.

“One local woman who bought jam, Emily Hanson, she stopped by to pick it up and hands me $60 in addition, saying it’s from her dad,” Huebner said. “He was so upset at what’s going on in Ukraine and wanted to contribute. Then she said that their small farm grows plant starts each year to sell, and wanted to know if they could donate the money from this year’s upcoming sunflower starts to the fund. I mean, of course.”

Herself an avid gardener, Huebner was thrilled by the idea and plans to join the effort this spring, planting sunflower seeds – Ukraine’s national flower – wherever there’s an empty spot.

The efforts are small ones, Huebner knows this, but they give her hope
that the people around her aren’t just looking away. 

“We need to keep making noise, keep paying attention,” she stressed, tears in her eyes. “Just don’t forget.”

Then she quoted Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s famous poet laureate, who wrote in his poem, “Zapovit,” words that Huebner speculates ring as true today as they did during the revolution of 1845, when they were written: “With softly spoken, kindly word/Remember also me.”

Jams for Ukraine

All profits benefit the Ukrainian war effort through the purchase of necessary supplies and the vehicles to transport them. 

• Glory to Ukraine (six jams or pickles for the price of five): $50

• Donate to Ukraine: any amount accepted

• Shevchenko Jam (raspberry, Chambord and champagne): $10

www.thecanningunderground.com

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