- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Spring is here, and with it comes blossoming trees, flowers and plants, with some of the latter being edible for humans.
On March 16, a group of 20 people and two dogs gathered at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum to learn about spring edible plant life.
Sean Asson and his son, Ben, 5, joined the group to have something fun and interesting to enjoy together on the partially cloudy and sometimes rainy day.
“I thought it would be neat for Ben,” said Sean Asson, a docent in training for JPPM.
The group was led by Tim Thoman, village manager of JPPM and Rick Hueston of Primitive Cafe in Baltimore.
“This is something I have been interested in for a long time,” Thoman said.
During the three-hour discussion and gathering session, Hueston led the group on a path near the JPPM Indian Village and along the water’s edge. The group stopped, looked and learned about the various edible and non-edible plants found at JPPM in the spring.
“There are new plants coming in all the time,” Hueston said.
One of the plants found was dead nettle. According to Hueston, the small, weed-like plant tastes like cat litter.
“It is a little sweet with the flower [on it],” he said.
Hueston, 52, who brought with him several books about edible plants, told the group he had been foraging since he was 7.
“I have lived in Alaska to Arizona, from the East Coast to the West,” he said. “Some of my favorite places [to look for edible plants] are the prairie states. They have a lot of edibles.”
The group was instructed on the dangers of edible plants out West, and here in Southern Maryland.
“Everything [that is edible is OK] in moderation,” Hueston said. “If it ain’t edible, I don’t usually spend my time on it.”
Thoman agreed, “If you are eating it [the plant] and it tastes really bad, why would you keep eating it?”
After Hueston and Thoman gave a brief overview of edible plants and showed the group guidebooks to help identify them, they set off to look for the edibles.
“March is a good time to find stuff,” Hueston said.
The group was given an idea of what kinds of tools were needed to search for edible plants, which included a small shovel and gloves. The foragers were then warned about the poison ivy in the area.
Thoman and Hueston said plants, edible or not, could be identified by the placement of the leaves. They demonstrated how it might look by using their hands.
“The leaves that are farther down the plant are older,” Hueston said.
It is best to cut the plants closer to the top, according to Hueston.
The group was given tips on how to prepare their findings. Although the dead nettle tastes sour, Hueston suggested ways to make it flavorful.
“Add a little bit of cider vinegar” when cooking the nettle, Hueston said.
The eclectic group of people received a lot of information about edible plants and were able to take home their foraged goods.
“I like edible plants,” participant Mitzi Poole said.
According to Thoman, JPPM hosts several edible plant programs a year. For more information on this or other programs, call JPPM at 410-586-8501.