Category: Food & Food Support Systems

Perennial Polycultures and the Richness of Diversity

The Way Nature Provides Imagine walking down a country road. On one side of the road, you see acres and acres of corn grown in neat rows. On the other side of the road stands an old-growth forest filled with towering trees and a thick underbrush. If you were to ask anyone which side of the road produced the most food, almost everyone would say that the cornfield is a […]

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Exceptional Elderberries

Ah, elderberries, deliciously poisonous, yet good for you. The fruit you should eat…if you know what you’re eating. While they say all berries are edible, at least once, the berry of the Sambucus genus is indeed edible but MUST be cooked first to break down the cyanide-inducing glycoside. Why? Because, eating too much of the cyanide-inducing glycosides will cause a toxic buildup of cyanide (yes, that is poison) in the […]

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Perfect Pumpkins

To eat, carve, or simply to decorate with, pumpkins are a wonderful annual to grow. The genus Cucurbita L. encompasses a variety of cultivars including Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita argyrosperma, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita mixta, and Cucurbita maxima. All Cucurbita varieties are members of the Cucurbitaceae family which also includes cucumbers, squash, and watermelon. While you can’t go wrong planting any variety of pumpkin, you may want to choose your variety based […]

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Remarkable Rutabagas

What do you get when you cross a turnip (Brassica rapa) and wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea)? A rutabaga (Brassica napobrassica) of course! While that may sound like a joke from primary school, it really is where the rutabaga comes from. In fact, once you see this marvelous root vegetable you will definitely note the similarities between it and turnips and cabbage. The root of the rutabaga looks much like a […]

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Mo’ Mulberry – The Essential Guide to All You Need to Know About Mulberry

Paul Alfrey from Balkan Ecology Project takes a close look at these incredible plants including how to grow them, the uses of Mulberry and growing Mulberry in polycultures, permaculture and agroforestry. Not many plants offer so much to the grower while demanding so little in return. A tree that requires so little attention and care, that even if there were an RSPP – Royal Society for the Protection of Plants […]

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Outstanding Onions

Onions (Allium cepa L.), being the most extensively cultivated species of the Allium genus, are a root crop that nearly everyone has heard about, seen, or eaten.  However, don’t let their perceived commonness lull you into thinking they’re uninteresting.  Onions are quite a fascinating garden vegetable that has some remarkable characteristics.      Onions of Olden Times It’s thought that for well over 7,000 years the onion has been consumed or […]

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How to Forage Safely as a Beginner

Disclaimer: Always seek local advise prior to consumption of wild mushrooms. I guess, to be completely honest, the best ways to forage as beginner would be to either hire a guide to take you or attend some sort of class. However, I’m going to come at this thing assuming most people are at least somewhat like me and bit tight with the budget. Truly, and even still, I plan to […]

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The Cost of Food Insecurity

In many developing countries, undernutrition is a recognized – and well documented – crisis. However, with increasing urbanization, another health concern is beginning to emerge as people choose to consume foods of convenience rather than exert the effort it takes to grow their own produce. While nutritious foods are still readily available in rural areas, the industrial urban systems involved with food processing and supply means these healthy foods are […]

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Captivating Capers

closeup of beautiful caper buds and flower

Capers (Capparis spinose), the caper bush, also called Flinders rose, is a perennial plant that is known to have round, plump leaves and large fragrant white to light pink flowers. What the plant is best known for though are the edible (unripe/unopened) flower buds (capers) and the oblong fruit that is filled with many seeds (caper berries) that it produces. There are other Capparis species that are used for medicinal […]

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The Best Perennial Vegetables

One of the tasks that I most dislike about the farming life is preparing the raised beds each time I want to plant out a crop of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, or onion. While I do enjoy eating a fresh tomato from my garden, the tedious, repetitive tasks of preparing the garden bed, weeding, and then planting out a winter cover crop does take up more time than I would like. […]

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Go Green Beans!

Green, string, snap, pole, or bush, whatever you call these beans, these edible little pods are great to grow in the garden. Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), as we think of them, typically grow in two forms. These two main growing forms are what we call bush and pole bean growing styles. Bush beans usually grow more compactly and won’t necessitate support. Pole beans are more viney and will need stakes […]

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The Health Benefits of Raising Reishi Mushrooms

If something is working, you might as well continue to use it, as the saying goes. Reishi mushroom powder has been used by Asian cultures as a natural medicine for at least 2,000 years. The Reishi mushroom, also known as the Lingzhi mushroom in China, is one of the only species of mushrooms that is consumed more for its medicinal and pharmaceutical properties than for its nutritional value. Due to […]

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