I spent the weekend at a woman's conference in Milwaukee. What an experience! Our keynote speaker was Starhawk, a magnetic and powerful woman, and the subject was "Nurturing Ourselves, Sustaining Our World." Of course that dovetails nicely with so much of what I believe in - this farm, my use of sustainable farming methods, my belief that the answer to most if not all of our world's problems lies in moving away from monolithic institutions and back towards micro farms and micro businesses.
It is good to hear my beliefs confirmed, and it was good to learn so many new things. Each of us had the opportunity to attend two workshops. My morning workshop was fun - how movement affects our brain, you know, dance to stay young, that sort of thing.
The afternoon workshop was how to use wild herbs (better known as weeds to many) to nourish ourselves. If our leader was any indication of how we could expect to feel as we introduce more wild food into our diets, then I'm on board! She had long thick hair, skin that glowed. Eighty-two acres here, every imaginable weed and wild vegetable growing underfoot, and it is time to start taking advantage of that. With the exception of stumbling onto a morel mushroom now and then and harvesting a little ramp each spring, I ignore what is out there for the most part.
I got a book at the conference that will help me do a better job of identifying plants. I also get a lot of help from Bob, who works for a large native plant nursery and knows more about plants than anyone I know. He comes out here from time to time to walk through my woods.
Soon the redbud trees will be blooming. The first time he was here, he said, "You know, these blossoms are really very tasty." He proceeded to strip a handful of blooms from a branch and pop them in his mouth. Yup, they are very tasty. Who knew? He showed me wild ginger and ramp, showed me what an Indiana banana tree looks like, and pointed out mushrooms that were edible. That brings to mind an old saying - there are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are NO OLD, BOLD mushroom hunters. Point taken. I will leave the bold mushroom hunting to others and stick with my morels and the big white ones that look like volley balls. (Do you understand now why I am not the best person to go 'shrooming with?)
My enthusiasm runs high - TOO high - at this time of year, so I am tempering my desire to become a botanist and settling for taking a little more time to walk in the woods, and to get a lesson or two about all that grows here from Bob when he has some time this spring.