Category: Food & Food Support Systems

Cosmic Carambola

Carambola in the palm of a hand.

Carambola (Averrhoa carambola), often called starfruit, does seem like a fruit that is out of this world. This beauty is a member of the Oxalidaceae family, and is considered a slow growing, fast producing tree with evergreen foliage. The foliage is light sensitive and most often folds in upon itself as the sun goes down. The carambola is thought to have originated in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, but is also […]

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The Charm of Cabbage

Large purple cabbage

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitate) is a cool season vegetable that comes in both purple and green and is related to other vegetables such as broccoli, romanesco, horseradish, and cauliflower. This Mediterranean native has been around for over 4,000 years and was used medicinally by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Cabbage was brought to Europe around 600 B.C.E., and around 200 B.C.E. the Celts began using it to make sauerkraut. Later […]

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Amazing Apples

Amazing Apples

These days when we hear the term apple we sometimes have thoughts of the latest iPhone or what the hottest album on iTunes is. Perhaps if you’re a 90’s fan, the line Matt Damon delivers in Good Will Hunting “How do you like them apples?” is what pops into your head. However, at the core of it all (pun intended) is the delicious, bright, crunchy, crisp fruit that hails from […]

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Remarkable Rhubarb

Eat the stalks, not the leaves! Wise words to adhere to when you’re going for the over-the-top tart perennial known as rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum). This member of the Polygonaceae family has perfectly edible stalks that look similar to celery, but has leaves that are quite poisonous. Rhubarb leaves contain some seriously high levels of oxalic acid, which is a nephrotoxin and can lead to kidney damage, and even potentially death […]

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Spectacular Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet Runner Beans are in a league all their own in the bean world. They are often grown purely for ornamental reasons, as they are beautifully stunning with their red blooms and climbing vines. However, even though they are ornamentals they are delicious edibles too! These pretty perennials, sometimes called multiflora or multiflowered beans, are exceptional members of the Fabaceae family (legume family). This family of plants not only includes […]

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Glorious Garlic

This pungent member of the Amaryllis Family (Amaryllidaceae), which includes beautiful blooming flowers like the daffodil, as well as members of garlic’s own genus (Allium), such as onions, leeks, and shallots, is thought to have originated in central Asia, south Asia, northeast Iran, or even possibly southwest Siberia. Garlic (Allium sativum), while experiencing a rise in popularity in the past century, is definitely not the new kid on the block, […]

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The Health Benefits of the Chia Seed

What are Chia Seeds? When most people think of the Aztec and Mayan cultures of Central America, we automatically think of corn and beans as the main culinary contributions to the food we currently eat today. However, these important civilizations contributed several other important crops to today´s food system including products such as amaranth, tomatoes, and chia seeds. Chia seeds were actually one of the most consumed products in these […]

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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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