There may be those among you who remember the naturalist and author, Euell Gibbons. He wrote a number of books, quite of few of them beginning with the word, “Stalking,” because they were primarily about finding and preparing the wild foods of America –sea food and plants, including herbs. His Stalking the Wild Asparagus was first published in 1962, and the field guide version came out nearly a decade later. This particular book covers many plants including, of course, the “wild asparagus,” which he found as a young boy and which he notes comes from the seed of the cultivated asparagus dropped by birds and taken root (I now have several of these stands of wild asparagus in odd places in fields). Few would be surprised at finding chapters on wild fruit and nuts or crayfish and blue gills. But I had not ever noticed the chapter on milkweed!
Many of us are now aware of the importance of cultivating milkweed (or at least not mowing it down and spraying it with herbicides), given its importance as a singular food source for the monarch butterfly caterpillars. The ability of this caterpillar to eat the plant DESPITE its typically toxic milky substance is a source of amazement. But Mr. Gibbons informs us that the common milkweed is a source of food for humans! He writes of its properties, range of distribution in the US, and the critical importance of correct cooking (boiling multiple times in hot water and not starting out with cold water). He writes that “The young shoots, up to 6 inches high, make a very passable vegetable to serve like asparagus; the newly opened leaves can be served like spinach, the unopened flower buds are eaten like broccoli; the young pods can be cooked like okra” (and then notes that these milkweed parts will not taste like any of these crops). He tells us that his personal favorite is the young pod, which he likes with a “pot roast and gravy.”
You may not have any interest in eating milkweed, but it is good to know about the natural abundance in our own neighborhoods. For more about foraging, wild foods and Euell Gibbons, visit your local library. For cultivated produce, baked items, crafts, clothing, and much more, visit the Fayette County Farmers Market!
The Market is open Saturday morning from 8:30 to noon and is located in the municipal parking lot on the corner of South Main and East East streets. SNAP EBT food benefit cards, Senior Farm Market coupons and credit/debit cards are accepted. Those using the SNAP EBT card for food purchases receive matching dollar “Produce Perks” tokens ($1 for $1) good only for fruits, vegetables and food producing plants. So,”buy one, get one” for up to $20 EVERY market day.
There are several special activities of note: the craft table at the market info booth this Saturday will feature the opportunity to create “a Beautiful Butterfly” from decorated coffee filters and clothes pins; Relay for Life of Fayette County will be joining us once again to spread the word about the mission of the American Cancer Society. Their upcoming fundraising and community support event, Relay for Life, will be held on Friday, June 7 at the Washington High School track.
This year’s promotional theme is “Fresh & Local for YOU,” sponsored by the Fayette County Farm Bureau. The Market is honoring all veterans —active duty and reserves— by offering a $5 coupon each and every market day. This offer is also extended to all Farm Bureau members as a member benefit. Just stop by the Market Info Tent and pick up a coupon! These coupons may be used to make farm market purchases anytime during the season.
Engedi (Beth Day, Alana Walters, Janet Bick): Assorted home baked goods (cinnamon rolls, bread, yeast rolls, cookies, pies) and a special children’s activity.
Featherstone Apothecary (Sylvia Call): natural soaps, skincare items, beeswax food wraps, and dog items.
Greens & Greenery (Katrina Bush): Vegetable and herb plants (leeks, sweet potatoes, zucchini, hot peppers, basil, garlic chives, horseradish, lovage, cucumbers); flowering and decorative perennials (ferns, bee balm, echinacea, choke cherry, amsonia, milkweed); castor beans, cypress vine. Seasonal produce (rhubarb, kale, baby salad greens, bok choi). Baklava and gingersnaps.
Jones Farm Fresh Produce (Jon & Taylor Jones): Strawberries, green onions, radishes, asparagus, pork chops, sweet Italian and jalapeño sausage links, maple links, ground pork, sage sausage, salt and pepper sausage, sausage patties, chicken breast, wings, whole chickens, chicken patties, chorizo and sweet Italian links, hamburger patties, ground hamburger and eggs.
Persinger Produce & Cottage Foods (David Persinger and Julie Mosny): The Pie Lady will have honey, Bun’s bars, oatmeal cookies, cherry ,apple, peach, strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, rhubarb pies. Cinni mini’s, and cinnamon rolls.
Things I Make (Susan Smith): Hand sewn girls’ dresses (sizes 2-16) and aprons.
Tracy Farms (Rob & Jess Tracy): Seasonal produce, plants, handmade market bags and crocheted items. Eggs and bread.
Wood Designed by DW (Debbie Welch): Handmade, unusual wood crafts. Hand made crocheted dishtowels, clothes, potholders, pocket books and baby booties. Special orders welcome. Cookies, fudge and brownies.
Your Other Mother’s Kitchen (Don & Sara Creamer): Artisan breads, asparagus, muffins, and shortcake for the strawberries.
Biers Run Mudd (Rachel Shepard): Home produced ceramic wares including mugs, bowls, dishes, and pitchers. Fresh brewed coffee offered to purchasers of mugs.
B.Y.E Gardens (Brian and Elaine Yoder): Pies (some sugar free and possibly strawberry pie), cinnamon rolls, cookies, sweet breads. Tomatoes and cucumbers.
By Thy Hand (Mark and Lori Chrisman): Angel food cakes, specialty breads, pies, cookies, dip mixes.
Chilcote Farm (Bruce & Marlene Chilcote): Honey, brownies, cookies, blueberry buckle, and baked donuts.
Donaldson Workshop (Roger Donaldson): Wooden spoons, cutting boards, wooden sandwich trays, and walnut spatulas.