Foraging – Your lawn is a salad bar

Posted on April 20, 2011 by


Paul offering up wild ramps. Yum!

Paul offering up wild ramps. Yum!

I signed up with Suburban Foragers for the 8 month long course in foraging that meets once a month and it was awesome! It really drives home how important it is not to spray our lawns with toxic chemicals. The weeds on your lawn are a salad bar.

Rule #1 – Don’t take it all, leave some behind to grow on. Gather a third, leave two-thirds behind. This way you can hope to find more next year. We gathered ramps, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), violets, purslane, shepherds purse, nettles and wild watercress (Nasturtiam officinal) from a running stream in the woods behind an organic farm. The class made a gorgeous salad and a soup for lunch and ate it in the balmy sun. Elana gave us a lesson on medicinal herb teas, homemade yogurt and local honey. I feel renewed.

As soon as I got home I transplanted some nettles and watercress in my yard and foraged fiddleheads and ramps from the woods behind my house (now that I knew what I was looking for) and made a salad of fiddleheads garnished with violets and sauteed ramps with wild garlic for my dinner of porkchops.

Fiddlehead Fern Salad with Violets

Fiddlehead Fern Salad with Violets

Our class homework is to get to know a plant really well by following it through the year. I picked Stinging Nettle because I have terrible Spring allergies and I am curious to conduct a personal experiment to see if it actually cures it. Aside from its medicinal application, Stinging Nettle tastes great as a sub for Spinach, has tons of vitamin A, C, D, iron, manganese, calcium, potassium and is 40% protein. Did I mention that it is really really delicious?

Stinging Nettles

Paul Tappenden, our foraging guide, made a killer Saag Paneer using Nettles instead of Spinach. Nettles hurt like bee stings when you touch them so wear gloves when harvesting and cook them to remove the sting. Paul says he purposely stings his hands with nettles because they are effective in curing his arthritis.

This class was totally worth the expense and the day just flew by. I also got to meet other members of my tribe, like minded people who care about the environment and learning wild foodways. We, as a world, are facing serious food shortage problems. What will we do for food when the GMO bubble bursts? If everyone just stopped spraying their lawns and learned what their weeds really are and how good and nutritious they are.. at least we can stop shipping salad greens from 1500 miles away. The suburbs can be one great big garden of eatin.



Posted in: Foraging