Monday, February 22, 2010

An ominous season, too

© 2010 Joshua Stark

Shortly after posting about dandelions and weeds, and especially after Hank Shaw's great post (Eat Your Lawn), I noticed that something else happens this time of year.

This time of year, masked men in white Tyvek suits slowly drive ATV's and tractors along the edges of roads, fields, and ditches...

This time of year, when things are at their most green in Northern California, our marginal lands are visited by the sprayers.

So please, as you take to the fields to pick all those great greens, make sure you know your land and place, including the spray regimes. Also, keep an eye out for the signs that the place you may pick has been sprayed. For example, here are two pics of some local mallow:

The second shot is healthy, unsprayed mallow. The first shot, however, is mallow that had been sprayed maybe just two or three days ago. Note the leaves are drooping, and the stalks can't keep the leaves up, either.

A very important part of foraging, and a wonderful benefit to it, is getting to intimately know a place. This includes knowing what sprouts and blooms, and how it behaves and should behave. It also includes knowing how you and others impact it, and hopefully, with time, learn how to impact it more positively. I do not subscribe to the "leave no trace" philosophy (although it has been great at getting people to tread more lightly and litter less), because we are physical creatures. Also, because we are physical, natural creatures, our impacts are not all bad. However, some are, and the beauty of foraging and other interactive outdoors activities (like fishing and hunting) is that we come face-to-face with our impacts, and we get to grow in a place as a part of a place.

I highly encourage folks to get out and pick good things from the margins, but please be careful. Also, if you've found a particularly good spot, perhaps it's time to notify the local authorities about their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, and encourage them to use techniques other than spraying pesticides.

1 comment:

budstark said...

I learned two things from this blog: 1)that this plant is "mallow", and 2) that it is edible. Now I know that that patch of weeds in my garden, is my garden.