Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Famine Foods, Diversity, Haunting Past

I found this site and I had to share it. Mainly because foraging is fun and it intrigued me, but also because these are non-typical potential garden additions as well. 

The initial site is called Famine Foods and it is something I most likely will be lost in for several days lol.

While we grow the same assortment of crops all of the time, in the past this notion was a luxury. The end result is a serious loss of variety in diet, and a massive loss in cultivars. Although now we are spoiled with only eating what we like/know best... I am curious so find out if these off the beaten path plants may be a welcome addition.

Like wood sorrel.. a plant that's unique taste instantly makes me remember being a little kid and hanging out with my friends. We used to munch on it all the time, and I love it. Really wish we had that around here, as I think my daughter would appreciate it too.

There was another plant, chickweed, that we would pick for our pet birds (budgies and cockatiels) and they loved it. It grew around the house and we would give them a big handful that they would devour. My Mom showed us as kids the plant and where it liked to grow. (During WW2 she was a very little kid in Germany. Their apartment building got bombed so to survive, they went to live with family in the countryside. One of her jobs was to pick chickweed to feed the chickens and the pig... until the pig was stolen.)

That time of her life left an impression.. a big massive one that her twin sisters did not obtain as they were infants at the time. It would be why she has 2 farms. Yep.. 2.. because one that is 75 acres is more remote, has the old orchard, the forested area with black walnuts, black raspberries, a cistern, a spring, tons of edible wild mushrooms, the huge asparagus patch, root cellar, wild grapes, the deer and turkey galore, etc.. it is the security of knowing "just in case", it's covered. The second farm is 20 acres and is... well.. not the typical farmhouse. It is modern (first one is well over 100 years old).. big kitchen, big house.. so on went solar panels and she's still debating the wind turbine. Her kitchen garden is 5 acres. Irony is she can grow houseplants, but veggies are not her strong suit.. so she just counters that with massive plantings. 

Anyways... she passed on the appreciation for foraging. Where she did it as a kid to help the family get by, it is enjoyable and fun.  My Grandmother was always one to walk the whole farm (even well into her late 70's) when she came to visit.. picking whatever was ready. Jams, preserves, pickles... and she thought the elderly widower farmer next door was hot .. which lead to the summer of sauerkraut. My Mom drew the line at the juniper berries... Oma was trying to gear up to make gin. They dried the 5 bushels Oma picked, sold some at the farmer's market and kept 2 pounds for seasoning in recipes.

From a practical point of view.. variety means there is always something to harvest. Every season there is some issue or another.. the rarity is the ideal. Too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry... what may be detrimental for one crop, may be ideal for another.

1 comment:

  1. We get wood sorrel here and chickweed. My son is the worlds best forager so much so it used to concern me greatly when he would go out searching. As he grew older and got a new computer he isn't as interested anymore but if needs be the interest will rekindle I think.

    Great article I will use and explore the link.