Tag Archives: forage

baby’s first forage

Yesterday, after finishing preparation and direct seeding of two beds of New England Pie pumpkins, we went to run some errands. The finale of these errands was a peach and mulberry forage. These are the fruits of our labor:

There is a freezer on the farm large enough to store 2-3 dead mobsters, but instead it is nearly practically of foraged fruit. Smoothies, jams, compotes, and maybe some mulberry pancakes are down the road.

I think I first heard about foraging through a New York Times article, but I can’t find the original source. The article mentioned “Wildman” Steve Brill who takes people on foraging tours around the New York area. I am actually considering going on one in Prospect Park when I return home. First, I assumed they were expensive, but they are actually just a suggested donation of $20. The problem with touring Prospect Park with the Wildman is that I don’t live conveniently close to the park, so any gleaning or foraging skills I learn will be specific to an area far away from me. The next step of my life as a forager must be applying the skills learned on the farm and wherever else I pick up skills (Brill’s book, blog entries, more blog entries, and even an iPhone app) to the places where I live. Knowing how to identify edible wild plants is only half of the battle. You need to know where to look for them, and then where the best loot grows.

An internet search led me to information about wild foraging in New Jersey, but I think it is going to take my own footwork to actually glean a sizable amount of food from my New Jersey suburbs or wherever I end up.

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grains & fruit

The reason that this entry is titled “grains & fruit” is because those are the two food groups I have thought about the most today.

This morning, I had Chinese amaranth and zucchini for breakfast, with a smidge of sesame oil. I have never heard of amaranth before, but it cooked up essentially like a porridge and it worked well in a savory context. I’m sure it’d be just as tasty in the sweet context too. Maybe next time. Oh–forgot to mention that the amaranth was grown on the farm, in addition to the zucchini.

Quin and Justin don’t grow much grain on the farm. I think amaranth was their first venture, and buckwheat will be their second. I learned today that growing enough grain for a loaf of whole wheat bread would take up about six of the beds on Mano Farm. Instead of that, six beds yield more vegetables than I can count. Discussing the acreage required for a meaningful grain crop reminded me of the Appalachian Staple Foods Collective that I read about in Utne Magazine. They are essentially a group of farmers and concerned citizens who started growing their own amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, black turtle beans and heirloom corn out of Athens, Ohio. I scoured their website for a figure of their acreage, but needless to say, a collective of farmers from the four farms who belong to the Collective have more space than the 1.5 acre Mano.

Another thing–we were harvesting seeds today and Quin pointed out French sorrel that was growing in the same bed. I had sorrel and wood sorrel on the last farm where I WWOOFed, but French sorrel was new. Despite the newness, it had the same lemony flavor and all I wanted to do was munch at it. So for dinner, I harvested a bunch of the sorrel and tossed it with foraged peaches and an orange balsamic agave dressing (with orange juice from a foraged orange). Hella yum.

A few notes about farm life:

  1. My hamstrings have met their match.
  2. I love the smell of dirt, sunscreen, and sweat on my sun-soaked skin.
  3. Every hour here feels better than the last.
  4. There is a pair of hummingbirds whose flight path is directly under this canopy where we often sit. At first I thought they were giant bugs but no, just adorable little birds.
  5. I am covered with bug bites and barely have the nails to scratch at them, but I’m over it. I killed one mosquito today by catching it between two fingers.
  6. While digging up an overgrown bed of weeds, we unearthed about three dozen carrots from a crop that was thought to have been a complete failure. There is nothing quite like the feeling of pulling out a weed and finding a carrot. I quickly learned to differentiate carrot leaves from the rest of the weeds and be more careful around them.
  7. Snails are everywhere.
  8. My haircut is the best decision I have ever made.

*For some reason, all of the pictures I have been trying to post have been coming out significantly grainer than they should be. Instead of posting grainy pictures (no pun intended), I haven’t been posting them at all. I will try to make a Facebook album soon so any of my friends can get a sense of my life here.