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Happy Spring folks!


While I may be sending this newsletter a few days post-Equinox, there’s still plenty of springtime ahead of us! I’ve been relishing the longer afternoons, the abundance of robins, and the first daffodil leaves just poking out of the ground. When I pay attention, I hear the same eagerness and excitement in human voices as I do in birdsong. The collective sense of emerging is what I like best about Spring in the Valley. One way that I like to celebrate this awakening is by foraging. 


I like foraging because the wild plants growing in the land around us get going more quickly than the veggies we grow. Also, stumbling upon an edible plant you recognize while taking a spring walk is super exciting. I still consider myself a novice when it comes to foraging: I can identify a few plants that I know are edible and like eating (the plants I’m including in this newsletter are a few of them). I’m going to link to what expert foragers have to say about them so you can get all the information you need. 

First up and earliest to sprout is one of my favorite plants- stinging nettle. Don't let the name scare you, once dried or cooked the stinging hairs are rendered harmless. I use dried nettle throughout the year medicinally as a tea, it is helpful for joint pain, allergies, UTI's, as well as menstrual support.

I tend to get a lot of joint pain during this transition from winter to spring, luckily nettle isn’t too far behind. I forgo gloves when harvesting and just surrender to the sting. It might sound painful, but you quickly get used to it. I find it reduces the inflammation in my hands. While writing this newsletter I learned there’s even a word for what I do! Urtication which comes from the Latin name for nettles, Urtica dioica. If urtication isn't your thing, just use gloves while harvesting and processing!

I harvest nettles every few weeks, drying what I’ll need for the year. For more information about the benefits of stinging nettle, check out this blog post from local herbalist Brittany Wood-Knickerson of Thyme Herbal. Please also check out her recipe for nettle, mushroom, asparagus risotto. If you can't wait till asparagus season to try this, I think it would be delicious without it!

Nettle, mushroom & asparagus risotto

Up next is Japanese knotweed. This is a really great plant to forage because it is delicious, nutritious, easy to identify and also invasive, so you can harvest as much as you like! I like it because it’s got vitamin C and zinc to support our immune systems through the seasonal shift. The tender shoots and top leaves are edible. You can also make a tincture from the roots, but that’s perhaps suited for different newsletter...

The best way I can describe the flavor of Japanese knotweed is lemony-spinach-asparagus. I’ve substituted it for the spinach in spinach gomae and added it to soups and curries. If you only use the shoots and not the leaves, it is tart and lemony like rhubarb. I’m linking to a video from Alexis Nikole Nelson (my favorite online foraging account- @blackforager on instagram) where she packs history, responsible harvesting tips, and a recipe for knotweed scones all into a 2 minute video! I’m also including a recipe for naturally fermented knotweed pickles that I’m excited to try this year. Not all plants can stand up to both sweet and savory applications, another cool thing about this plant!

Knotweed puree in scones
Lacto-fermented knotweed pickles

Last up, I learned from Alexis Nikole Nelson that you can actually eat magnolia blossoms and they taste like ginger. Who knew? In this video she uses the magnolia syrup in ginger snap cookies, but it could be used anywhere you use simple syrup. I imagine it would be really yummy substituted for the ginger syrup in lemonade or maybe a bright, springy cocktail? 

Magnolia Syrup (cookies)
Ginger lemonade
Ginger Rogers- (ginger gin fizz)
I hope you've enjoyed the Spring edition of our newsletter. We've decided this year to commit to a more robust seasonal newsletter (with our Summer edition coming out on the Solstice). Trying to send a monthly newsletter has been a perennial challenge for us, both in terms of finding time and inspiration each month. I think this system will work better for us- doing less, but better.

We may send a few shorter newsletters between seasons when inspiration strikes. If you'd like to stay connected to our more day to day work, follow us on instagram/facebook and keep an eye out for our events posted there and in the Daily Mammoth. 

For Book & Plow Farm,
Kaylee Brow
Copyright © 2022 Book & Plow Farm, All rights reserved.

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