We have been intentionally educating ourselves on the native plants in our area. As ecologists we think it’s important to bring the land back to a somewhat natural state. As activists we have been realizing the importance and benefits of utilizing what the land has to offer just as the Natives did, and still do. In doing so we have realized that there are many plants we consider “weeds” that are a hugely beneficial food source, and easier to grow than the cultivated crops we regularly rely on.
Over the past five years we have allowed the farm to grow wild. In doing so we have witnessed many native plants reemerge that had not been present before. The two species of milkweed being the most notable in these. While they are a beneficial ecosystem to many insects, they aren’t forgeable, not unless you steal the flowers away from the pollinators we want to attract.
We are discovering so many others though, that are so prevalent on the farm that they have the potential to provide us with months of forgeable food. We already harvest mulberries, blackberries, and black raspberries. However, there is so much more out there! Right now we have Queen Anne’s Lace, purslane, chicory, wild lettuce, dandelions, cattails, amaranth, and goosefoot (and probably so much more!!)
We also have burdock, walnuts, acorns, plantain (the weed, not the banana like fruit), elderberries that I know of. We are just getting started with edible plant identifications!! We are also planning on adding in crab apples and Paw Paw trees, and cultivating the plants so they remain wild, but in an orderly fashion so they produce more and are easier to find and harvest (just like the Natives, we can and should learn from those who are closest to this land we call home).
We are discussing adding our foraged goods to our CSAs to start educating people on the edible plants that surround us. I am very excited about this prospect. I love the idea of going out on our land to collect food for our consumption.