This Place Where Food Grows

I have tolerant friends. Really, I do. They've been patient as I've gone from rabid locavore, to igniting my hair on fire at the plight of farm workers; from talking about industrial food to simply serving them a pastured fried egg and letting them taste the difference. I've seen them exchange the look, eyes rolled up to their foreheads when I've cornered the conversation; gmo's, corn, the loosing game of plastic packaging. But I'm getting better. They would say, I've relaxed. I hope they would say I've relaxed. A little?

Now I've added a new obsession - listing the food I see growing. There's a lot of it. On a walk with a friend we saw still green figs, an orange tree as crowded as a World Series parade. She pointed at honeybees in the back of an industrial park, chickens behind a suburban home. We saw artichokes and rosemary growing through a front fence, an apple tree with a few remaining fruits. There were blackberries, grapes and sage. It was exciting, it was abundance, it was an awakening.

I've long pinched rosemary from the hedge on the corner and walked further for a few fresh leaves of bay. I've generally noticed a fruit tree here, another there and exclaimed over anything with a blossom attached; but food, I haven't been focused on food in the landscape. I'm not talking about gardens, I love those too; I'm talking about the wild edges, forgotten fruit trees, edible landscapes. I'm talking about front yards, back yards, the school yards, the parking lot at the library; I'm talking about the food growing along the paths that connect them. There's an entire menu out there I've overlooked.

And now I'm determined to name this free growing and previously discounted food, acknowledge it and yes, make a point of pointing it out to my friends too. I'm sure they'll want to know so they too can walk down the street and pinch a sprig of spice or gather wild fruit. Or simply appreciate this place where food grows.


Kelly said...

just make sure you wasj it! never know where the dogs have been! lol
My colleagues at the university were mortified when i confessed to eating weeds when 'proper' salad leaves were not available. Yhey think i'm quite mad, and now that they all know I have a cloth produce bag business on the side, well...

Donna said...

I can't wait for our next walk together to This Place Where Food Grows! It snowed here all day yesterday! Hugs!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I love this post! I'll admit to trimming the neighbor's rosemary on several occasions for a little added flavor to my baked chicken - just need to make sure it's above or beyond the area of walked dogs. I've had a recent fascination about wild edible plants and have started a collection of blog links:

meemsnyc said...

Foraging is wonderful. I have to do more of it!

Carlie said...

You must live in California.

Nourishing Words said...

You're so right; when you open your eyes, food is all around. There's a huge pear tree in a park down the road, with pears littering the ground beneath it every fall. People all around, but like it's not even there.

Kale for Sale said...

Kelly - Oh, you're a strange one with that cloth bag business all right. That is so funny. At least we're in good company with the quite mads of the world.

Donna - On your next walk you'll have to look for food somewhere in all that snow. There must be something. And yes, I'd love to do a food walk with your next visit.

Nature ID - I just visited your blog and cracked up at your wordless post today. That is one work of nature! I did a herb walk with a herbalist recently and yes, it was fascinating what could be eaten and what could be used as a remedy. There is so much to learn!

meemsnyc - Yes, forage like a cat.

Carlie - I do. Fourth generation. And I suspect as much food as we grow here, we waste more than our share. Sigh.

Nourishing Words - Your comment reminds me there is a house a few blocks away that will attach a basket to their fence and fill it with the pears from their front yard tree and add a sign that says, free. And they're fabulous pears. I'll have to go by there soon. Thank you! The magic of an old basket and a free sign.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

ahha, you've got the bug now. I've been "harvesting" food from neighborhoods for years. It is amazing what is out there and overlooked. We live in such an abundant California world.

Have you heard about the heirloom food conference, which will be held next September by The Seed Bank in Petaluma. They've asked me to give a talk, but I'll be in Maine then and can't fly back. It should be an amazing group of non GMO foodies and growers, ethnobotanists, and wildcrafters.

If you haven't seen the Seed Bank (which is in the old Bank in Petaluma) you've missed out. It is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and it is awesome.

All simple pleasures to you,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Anonymous said...

Great post! I do the same thing with my family showing them things that are growing that are also edible. I love that people are planting artichokes as a hedge or a decorative kumquat tree. I'm working hard to have my own landscape be more edible.

Kale for Sale said...

Sharon - I wish you were coming to Petaluma. I know the old bank well and will certainly look up the event. Thank you for letting me know. And always for your nice words.

agrigirl - An artichoke hedge is brilliant. I can see it. There really are so many possibilities to add food to the landscape. You've got me really thinking now. Thank you.

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