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Edible Plant Walk at Our CSA

This is the second year that we’ve had our CSA, and although the farm is very welcoming—with public events throughout the year and a work-for-food option—we’ve never actually visited it. I’ve wanted to, but it’s two hours away in Belchertown.

Stone Soup Farm

Last Saturday Stone Soup hosted an edible plant walk with John Root, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to see what the place was like. I’d already gone on an edible plant walk in the spring, but it’s not actually redundant—plants look completely different in the middle of summer.

John Root holds up a jewelweed plant; crushed into a paste, it prevents/relieves rashes from poison ivy and stinging nettle.

My favorite new discovery—lambsquarter (otherwise known as goosefoot or pigweed). Its leaves are supposed to be more nutritious than spinach—and I can attest that it’s better tasting. It would make a good salad. Unfortunately, its leaves are vaguely the same shape as (poisonous) nightshade, so it’s important to recognize its clear characteristics, such as a white powder at the base of the leaves and a reddish color in the crook where the leaf meets the stem. It’s something I would want to clearly identify before eating, but it’s well worth taking the time get to know.


While we were there we collected some milkweed pods (up to 2 inches long). Once we got home we tried them both boiled and sautéed, and they were surprisingly good. Some people compare them to okra. The outside tasted very green, and the seeds and silk on the inside were bland and a little sweet. Boiled was definitely better—the insides absorbed the water and became smoother.

They kind of look like Body Snatcher pods, don't they?

It bothers me that no one talks about pollution when it comes to wild edible plants. I asked John, and he said that’s why we were at an organic farm, but that doesn’t help me much on a daily basis. David Craft said to use common sense—don’t collect by the sides of roads or where you know they spray pesticides. But what I’d really like to know is which plants absorb the most heavy metals, whether berries are likely to be less polluted than the bodies of plants, things like that.

After the presentation, Jason and I took a long walk around the farm and saw the chickens that we get our eggs from. They live in a chicken tractor, a mobile henhouse that gets moved around the fields to till and fertilize them. It looked like a really good setup for the chickens—they’re probably happier than our cats!

Don't they look happy?

One year ago: Prius.


Comment from Sense of Home
Time July 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I would love to go on a edible plant walk. I have often wondered about the prairie “weeds” we have around here and what they might be good for medicinally or for eating.

We have lamb’s quarters, but yes I hesitate. It is different looking at a photo in a book vs. having an experienced person with you.

I also wondered about the pollution on the plants in the spring when I foraged for asparagus. I did not have an organic farm to forage on.


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