The Milkweed Diaries

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wild Harvests

With the avalanche of cultivated foods coming out of the garden right now, and gardening fatigue setting in, it's nice to pause and remember that there is food all around us, available for free, growing wild.

Our first human ancestors nourished themselves by foraging, and I believe that there is something deep in our collective memory that calls us back to wild foods. There's a childlike delight that I've witnessed when people encounter food, free for the taking, outside of a cultivated garden. It's a reminder that food is not a commodity, but a gift from the Earth and part of our connection to the Earth.

Last week my sister Mary and I took our farm interns blueberry picking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the five of us picked about 11 pounds of wild blueberries in a couple of hours. It was a lovely excursion, complete with a dip in one of my favorite swimming holes (pictured below) and enough steep uphill hiking to leave my leg muscles sore for a couple of days.

Picking blueberries on the parkway is an annual tradition for me, infused with childhood memories, radical politics, and love of all things wild -- I wrote about all of these things last year here: "Wild Blueberries Fresh from the Commons."

We brought this year's blueberries home and made all manner of blueberry treats, including sourmilk blueberry pancakes, 5 gallons of blueberry mead, a blueberry crisp, and of course, a blueberry pie.

The mead is bubbling away, the pie and crisp and pancakes are long-since gone, and a meager quart of blueberries are preserved in a mason jar in my freezer for some winter day when we need a little burst of antioxidant-packed, wild summer goodness. Our interns are harvesting Autumn Olives and Sumac this week for more wild foods preservation projects on the farm this week. And I'm feeling gratitude for all of the nourishment, wild and tame, that's available to us if we pause and look around.

1 comment:

highlandstreet said...

I should have read the blog before bringing that cobbler! Didn't seem like you were blueberried out, though.