Archive for gleaning


Adding My Voice In

Posted by: | Comments (2)

There have been many conversations with friends about the ‘state of the Union’ lately. That’s the good news! At least the disparity of the situation between the 1% and the 99% has become so evident, we now get it. Or do we? I wonder if the whole truth and depth of this attempt to overturn the form of Democracy our country was founded on is really sinking in?

Whatever do I mean? What does this refer too? Well, our food contains poisons that are compromising our health, and damaging our children. Babies are now born with up to 200 chemicals in their bodies at last count. The various state and federal governmental bodies are in the grip of international companies, international financial institutions, and large organizations with even larger self interests. None of these are human, so there is no ethical code, integrity, honor, or morals involved in their point of view or their dealings with all of us. We have become chaff in the wind and whatever money we have is the only thing left in the basket when the harvest is done. We, as people, have been blown away in the winds of very Big Business doing the one thing they are geared to do: make profits above all else.

We’re in BIG TROUBLE, Folks! And it’s going to take a large turnout of ordinary citizens to get this wagon turned around. We can do this, and have to do it now – if we value the high principles this nation was founded on. That means we have to show up!

Showing up comes in many forms, so don’t think you have to join rallies, occupy Wall Street, or sleep in a tent to make a difference. Those things all help and it is a huge part of showing up. Spending some time on your closest capitol steps with others will show up as a signal of how fed-up we are with being stripped of power. There are many other ways to get this idea across and actively join the 99%. So I’ll talk about a few.

Stop consuming goods from ALL the big box stores. Trade with each other, barter, find things on FreeCycle and Craigs List. For the Holidays, ReGift to all the people on your gift lists. Think of recycling, repurposing, and renewing as political and critical acts to alert the Big Companies that we mean it when we say we are fed-up with being treated like ciphers, sheep, and cannon fodder. Allow the GNP to take a dump this year!

Start connecting with others to establish a local economy (Denver Dollars for instance), local food, and learn what you can eat that you never considered as a source of food. There is wild food in the city, you know. Relearn what Grand parents and Great-Grandparents always knew and did. We have the skills, we have the talents, and we also have the teachers. Don’t let the rhetoric of the Big Company Journalists affect or effect you! We have people who know what to do. Seek them out and become an interdependent force to be reckoned with!

That’s how we started and those sweet juices of community and cohesion are still running through our veins. We know what we need to do. So just start…start acting out of honor and morality…start joining rallies…start unplugging from the Machine!! Just tell ’em: “Grandmother Said So!”


Wild Foods & Forgotten Fruits

Posted by: | Comments (0)

In my last blog I talked about finding wild food in the city, and touched on a few choice ‘weeds’. Of course there are many more, and I’ll be going into more detail on my new website – – when it is up and running in a week or so. There will tips, uses, pictures and recipes!

Actually, this is the second part to the last blog, and the focus is Forgotten Fruits. Most of the weeds I talk about are just about everywhere. The desert is an exception (sort of) because the weeds I’m highlighting are brief visitors only after a good rain. The fruits are also very different. On the urban desert scene you’ll find oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, figs, and pomegranates. All wonderful, however at the moment, I’m in a more temperate zone, so I’m going to discuss these urban neighborhoods – specifically older neighborhoods.

I live in an area that was settled just before 1900. We have the benefit of all the fruits that were planted as a normal part of backyards and essential to the life of that time. Now we have a generation that has no idea what these fruits are, if they are safe to eat, or what to do with them. This is not a blanket statement by the way, just an observation on the times and the people around me.

In a six block area around my home there are apple, apricot, plum, cherry, crab apple, and peach trees, all producing regularly, and all delicious. There are also June Berries (Service berries, Sasketoons, Shad bush), grapes, raspberries, mulberries, huckleberries, and gooseberries. Most important (to me) I even know where elderberries are!

When there is a bumper crop, these wonderful, organic fruits fall into the street and rot. I am constantly amazed at the ability to step over these delicious ripe fruits while on the way to the grocery store to buy the same thing shipped 1500 miles unripened, arriving expensive and tasteless.

So as much as I can, I go collect this fruit. When I spot a good tree loaded with fruit, I knock on the door and ask. If no one is home, I leave a sticky note with my request, a business card, and my phone number. No one has refused, and I always offer to share the bounty with the home owner – whether it’s jam, jelly, canned, fresh, or dried fruit.

On these long summer evenings, finding food in the city is a pleasant past time and a way to get to know your neighborhood. It can bring food to your table both now and in the winter, and it lets the people around you see another way of providing for themselves. A heartening prospect in uncertain times with questionable food.

So on your walks around your neighborhood, explore the food opportunities and let me know what you find!


The Fruits of August

Posted by: | Comments (1)

I’m establishing myself as an urban locavor (urban forager, frugal ecologist)  and now I remember the joys and fatigue of August. It’s about putting food by for the winter and early spring months when there is almost no local fresh food available. I’m fondly gazing at pints of freshly canned peaches, apricot salsa, jam and jelly of several varieties and feeling both proud and somewhat overwhelmed. Tired also comes to mind since this activity starts when my day normally ends.

I’ve frozen broccoli and green beans – though I’m not finished by any means – and want to find more time to can tomatoes, beets, and make sour kraut. The full branches of the plum tree out front is calling to me and I’ve got permission to pick the wonderful  heirloom peaches a couple of blocks from here. I am waiting somewhat patiently for the elderberries to ripen as well.

This is the month when the garden overflows with all the good things at once. Of course there has been a steady flow of produce since early greens and peas in April. However August is the time of almost overwhelming abundance of tomatoes, peppers, beans, greens, and corn demanding to be put by for the months of  fallow, empty gardens.

Now, that last part is not entirely true since with good planning there will be the second crop of carrots and beets left in the ground with rows of  parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas. Kale and Brussels sprouts taste sweetest and best after the first frost touches them and with a nice heap of straw covering the rows, all can be picked or dug well into December, maybe longer depending on the depth of the frost.

I think back to my childhood when we put enough food by for a family of five to last until the garden produced again in the spring. I’m definitely small potatoes compared to that. Just for starters we canned 150 quarts of tomatoes, and 150 quarts of various fruits (peaches, pears, plums, cherries, applesauce, etc). We rented freezer lockers for all the veggies and meats since our chest freezer couldn’t hold it all. It was a constant daily and nightly ‘meditation’ of picking, shucking, shelling, blanching, pickling and cooking. We used the porch, the summer kitchen and the winter kitchen to maximum capacity for several months, filling every shelf  in the cellar with canned goods and making weekly trips to the freezer lockers down the road.

The smells were amazing, ranging from mouth watering to eye stinging depending on what was cooking! Vinegar and cloves vied with fruit syrups; sour kraut warred with applesauce. In the end the astounding bounty of the harvest surrounded us with such visible abundance that it mitigated the bone-weariness of endless activity. When the first hoar frost crisped and sweetened the kale, the end of the season was finally in sight. With a satisfied sigh of relief, we settled in for the winter.

Now, here in Denver, I want to work my way back to canning, freezing, preserving, drying, and pickling Summer for the Winter. I want to use the local abundance of fruit trees lining the streets, summer farms and small ranches to supply myself so that I again know where my meals come from. I figure it will take a year to get this up and running, so I might as well start now. That’s why I’m staring at my 16 pints of pink and golden peaches with affection and glee. I’m back in the saddle again!