Posts Tagged ‘Wild Edibles’

Urban Homesteading and Faery Gardening

For many of us, this last third of 2012 marks a change in direction, and for some, the coming together of long held and carefully nurtured dreams.

In keeping with the change in seasons, David and I have some big shifts in store. He has accepted American Airlines’ “Early Out” package, and we will soon relocate to Goshen, Indiana — the adorable, artsy, eco-friendly, service-oriented town where his parents live. They’re both in their eighties, and we all realized that we could significantly improve their quality of life (and ours) by “right-sizing” and moving within walking distance of them.

This past week, we picked up keys to our new little eco-haven. It’s actually a new/old eco-haven — an older property taken down to the studs and refurbished with energy efficiency in mind. We’ve been given carte blanche to turn the wild yard into a permaculture and gardening spot with beauty, sustainability and possibly even our own backyard labyrinth. Our front porch can double as a coldframe/winter cold crop greenhouse, and we’ve got expansive Southern windows with deep sills for my indoor herb garden. Those who know how much David and I love wild food foraging and caring for the Earth will realize what a dream come true this living arrangement is — particularly since it involved zero looking on our part. The land and home synchronously came to us as a near exact match to the wish-list on my iPhone.

Our lease in Madison ends on November 30, and we have a two month overlap of leases for our relocation. We do intend to continue offering Raph events in the Dousman area; however, after this month, those Dousman events will not happen again until 2013. Depending on David’s new work schedule, the Dousman events will probably occur bi-monthly or quarterly. The Madison events have had such inconsistent turnout that we will focus on Dousman as our WI locale for Raph events, although we do plan to visit friends and family in Madison from time to time. We’ve also both got many connections in the Chicago area, so Chicago events may begin happening in 2013. Stay tuned on that …

I’m just so excited about the possibilities! Even though we have much more room at this new spot, I intend to utilize all I’ve learned about gardening “up” and growing in small spaces. That way we can maximize yield. We’ll also be planting tons of medicinal wildflowers and some fruit trees and bushes, combining beauty with powerful productivity. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the magickal properties of plants and will incorporate some faery attracting and protective non-edibles around entrances and the perimeter. We already have loads and loads of wild violets and, as shown above, wild petunias that self-seeded in the formerly overgrown yard. Not much grass in sight: our ground cover includes purslane, dandelion greens, chicory and plantain. Salad right out the door! Even more than the free, no work greens, we’re excited about becoming stewards of this land — loving it and working with it to express Earth’s bounty.

As 2012 continues to accelerate, I know many of you also face relocation, career and/or significant relationship changes. Please know that you are not alone in this process! I have clients all over the world, and so many people find their lives imminently unrecognizable. Change seems like the tall order of the day. Whatever your own deepest longings, visualize, imagine and intend well: wonderful changes await those who invite and receive them.

Peace!

Raw Vegan Mexican and Birthday Celebrations

Mmmmhmmmm, I have been quite the kitchen witch lately, prepping all manner of elaborate raw food feasts. I’m not sure what’s gotten into the Lazy part of my Raw Foodist nature. Actually, this feast only took two hours total to prep, not counting passive dehydrator time for the tortillas. Just thought I’d share some of the goodies I made, so David and I could have a pre-birthday dinner for him after my Vision and “Visions” class this past Sunday.

On the menu: Spinach Flax tortillas from Cafe Gratitude‘s book, “I Am Grateful.” Yum! Only 4 ingredients (loads of spinach, a tablespoon of flax and lemon juice and some sea salt). They’re kind of delicate on the dehydrator screens, but I love their flavor. I used these to hold some walnut-pumpkin seed taco “meat,” topped with tomatillo-chia seed salsa, homemade guacamole, and a simple purple cabbage slaw made with apple cider vinegar and a hint of birch sweetener. The chia seeds were an afterthought, since those tomatillos got extra juicy. Too much liquid and delicate tortillas are a no-no. I learned about adding chia seeds to salsa from Jerri Hastey of Santa Rosa’s “Seed Restaurant.” Then I made a goji berry-olive oil-balsamic vinegar dressing to top a side salad of spring greens.

We got two meals from this prep, but here are photos from the first night:

Mexican Tacos and Cabbage Slaw

Cabbage Slaw with ACV and Birch Sweetener

Spring Greens with Goji Balsamic Dressing

I also made a simple walnut-date-raw cacao cake for David last night (on his actual birthday). I think that recipe originally came from my dear friend Tania Marie: 1 cup walnuts; 1 cup dates; 2 TBSP raw cacao; process together in a food processor. I usually make some sort of icing, but last night we opted just for the cake. I had soaked and dehydrated walnuts last week, which made it extra creamy and delicious.

The sweet treats didn’t stop with the cake, though. Our friend Ingrid makes THE best raw granola on the planet. When we headed in for chiropractic appointments yesterday a.m., Dr. Ingrid gave David a jar of her tasty “Namaste Granola” to go along with a case of coconut water from Dr. Brian:

Namaste Granola

And truth be told, we’re just getting started. With David’s birthday on the 7th and mine on the 22nd, we’ve got two weeks of yumminess planned. This Friday, we’ll be enjoying some homemade chocolate pie by our Raw Mama friend Sarah. Then we’ve got a (cooked) Wild Edibles Gourmet Dinner at the Wildwood Institute on May 19th and a road trip on my birthday that involves at least one stop at our friends’ Danny and Kathy’s Borrowed Earth Cafe. So grateful for sweet friends, lots of love, Mother Earth and her yummy foods!

Wild Foraging and Weeds: Why Wild Things Make My Heart Sing

Anyone who follows me on Facebook, walks in the woods (or anywhere!) with me, peruses titles on my growing stack of library books, or visits our backyard may possibly have noticed a teeny tiny obsession with all things wild. This is not something new, but it has most definitely intensified since October 2010, when I took an Urban Foraging Class on my first visit to Madison. In years past, I delighted in dandelions, lambs quarters, nettles and purslane, with the occasional sorrel mixed in for good measure. My friend Cecilia showed me a wild strawberry bush and fig tree in Petaluma, and we spent some blissful times gorging ourselves on Nature’s bounty. Perhaps it’s the faery in me, but I’ve always loved weeds, especially clover that attracts honey bees and Leprechauns … as well as forget-me-nots and all things foresty.

In addition to the woods, medicinal herbs have also held a space close to my heart, especially since I first began my Medical Intuitive practice while doing an apprentice trade with a Seattle herbalist of 50+ years (no longer practicing). In exchange for me “reading” his clients, he taught me what he knew about Chinese, Ayurvedic and Native American Herbal Remedies. We both learned lots and his clients benefited from our joint efforts. In my pre-“I not only believe in past lives, but I offer past life readings” days, he would assure me that I must have spent many lifetimes working as a healer because I seemed to just “know” all the remedies. I’ve gradually learned more on a conscious level, and I’ve obviously gotten over my reluctance to attribute any past life infiltration of knowledge! Still, one thing I missed in working with him was the experience of actual plants. All the herbs he used arrived as powders. The most I interacted with them was by taking them internally or counting capsules for his clients. I appreciated the ways he helped me heal from my brain injury, along with the training, but part of me longed to connect with the plants themselves.

Fast forward ten years: living in a house in eco-friendly Madison has provided me with a yard, unsprayed bike trails, and a community of people interested in permaculture, organic gardening and wild food foraging. I’ve since attended another urban foraging class, as well as a Wild Edibles Dinner, hosted by Kathleen Wildwood of Wildwood Institute. The gourmet, multi-course meal was foraged and prepared by the owners of Moonwise Herbs, and it truly inspired me with more community, delicious, deeply nourishing food, and a greater appreciation of the abundance all around us.

As a Lazy Raw Foodist and newbie gardener, I love so many things about wild foods! For one thing, they grow without effort. Instead of weeding the garden, watering the soil, and carefully fertilizing seedlings, you can just let the weeds have at it. I find this comforting, as I watch how slowly my cultivated seedlings have sprouted and begun to grow, in vast contrast to the abundance and fast spurts of dandelions, lambs quarters and wild violets. Our backyard came with lots of bulb plants like hostas and lillies, but I’ve also found wood nettles, bee balm, garlic mustard (great for pesto!), what appears to be plantain, clover, creeping Jenny, wild lettuces, a transplanted stinging nettle, ferns (for fiddleheads), various now potted mints, and some possibly edible leeks. We also inherited three raspberry bushes, two elderberry trees, and some burdock from a permaculture enthusiast who needed to trim back her bounty. These all look happy and vibrant among my kale, chard, chives, strawberries, herbs, nasturtiums and marigolds.

Much happier than my poor tomato plants! Dear me, if I based my gardening experience on the joy of some of the trickier specimens, I’d feel so discouraged that I just might quit. Instead, the weeds provide wonderful greens for smoothies and salads, as well as “proof” that our tiny, unplanned yard can provide abudant produce. If I expand my “garden” outward to include nearby bike paths, I find Juneberry trees, more elderberry, giant dandelions, large burdock and cattails, which I have yet to try. I hear that cattails offer all parts as edibles during various points of the year, but still want some help identifying which parts to harvest when. Our landlord, who lives behind us, also offered his crabapple trees and cherry tree during harvest time. These produce much more than birds and the nearby humans can handle without canning, freezing or dehydrating. Supposedly the crabapples make an excellent cider, and I’m happy to experiment when the time comes.

The Wild Edibles Dinner featured a dessert made from Japanese Knotweed berries, which some of you may recognize as a primary ingredient in Resveratrol supplements. Indeed, David Wolfe has mentioned Japanese Knotweed as a major immune system support for people suffering from Lyme Disease, and I used these to help my ex-husband recover from his Advanced Stage Lyme. There’s a saying among herbalists that Nature provides whatever you need nearby, so I find it interesting that Japanese Knotweed has become a massively invasive species in Wisconsin, where Lyme Disease also runs rampant. I’ve heard the same thing about teasel root growing fast in Oregon and other areas with a LD issue. I don’t have LD, but I must say, that Japanese Knotweed crisp rocked! So much so that I’m going to call the folks trying to eradicate it from a nearby park to see if I can harvest the unsprayed berries.

I love how Nature seems to “know” exactly what issue someone has and synchronously provide just the plants necessary for healing. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I consider humanity to be in a crisis state right now. From government to corporate to environmental abuses to the restriction of all herbs in the EU, we need to wake up and shift! Planet Earth does not require humanity for her survival. In addition to taste and medicinal properties, I love the resilient and unstoppable qualities of weeds. We are what we eat, and we could do much worse than weeds. In fact, weeds balance disturbed or unhealthy ecosystems. Things like dandelion, comfrey and burdock grow extremely deep roots, drawing minerals up to renourish depleted soil. Weeds spring up when the Earth needs healing. By eating more weeds, we can become, on a cellular level, Earth healers. By eating wild things, we become wild, too — more easily able to free ourselves from outmoded societal conditioning that destroys communities and our sense of connection with each other and our environment.

Harvesting local foods frees us from dependence on oil and the transportation system used to bring us the produce we take for granted. It also frees us from having to pay for food. Although I have plenty of money to buy groceries, I recognize BigBanks, BigOil, BigAg and BigPharma as major culprits in all things wrong with our world right now. I would love to live completely outside the system, and I keep researching ways to increase my own independence (and interdependence with more preferable groups). In the meantime, collecting weeds, wild foraging for edibles and seeding easy-to-grow organic plants at home, brings me step-by-step closer to greater harmony with the Earth and my own Nature-loving soul. Learning how to survive on wild items also lets me relax about potential world food shortages caused by poor weather conditions, disasters or disruption of food transportation.

I’m nowhere near my final goals, but I begin each morning marveling at the abundance and beauty all around me. I find it fun. The spunky part of me who’s familiar with Codex Alimentarius and Agenda 21 also gets excited to think of myself like a weed. In a world where governments at best fail to protect their citizens and at worst are actively creating weather, environmental and pharmaceutical conditions to destroy, starve or poison large portions of the population, eating weeds and wild things is my way of celebrating strength and life. Just TRY to eradicate dandelions! Just try to get rid of wild violets and garlic mustard. Even with the most intense chemicals and poor conditions, new ones will no doubt pop up. I have lambsquarters growing in my patio cracks! Feeling that resilience and expansion in myself makes me giggle. I also feel deeply nourished and joyful.

If you decide to forage, I strongly suggest connecting with experienced people in your area. You’ll also want to make sure the no one sprays or pollutes the plants you’d like to eat, and identification does matter. You’ll want to learn the key differences between wild edibles and poisonous lookalikes. If in doubt, don’t eat it! Personally, I find the learning curve exciting. Yes, it takes up a lot of my current time and energy, but I consider the process both recreational and restorative. In a world of change, those who cling to the old may perish, but those who adapt, thrive. I intend to flourish, regardless of circumstances, and I feel ever so grateful for the challenges that brought me more in tune with Earth and some beautiful humans and animals on this planet.