poetry and prose about place

growing and gathering – value

with 10 comments

These days I am working to complete my manuscript of poems on the subject of ‘growing and gathering’ local foods.

As I sort my poems, I find several are about the ‘value’ of wild plants as food.

Sometimes this value is simple value for money.  Every cup of blueberries I pick is one I don’t have to buy.  When I pick enough berries to freeze, I can have blueberries or blackberries when they cost a fortune to buy fresh at the store.  I am also bringing the warm summer and its memories forward into the chill of winter.

A few of my poems focus on the value of substitution.  For example, I will never run out of tea leaves for my daily tea break.  I have Pineapple Weed, Sorrel and Sweet-fern teas to make.  Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law, and my own little herb garden, I have a rack of fresh herbs drying, including Camomile and several varieties of Mint.  If I run out of salad ingredients, I have a stash of salad greens just outside my door.

Storage is the subject matter of a few of my poems.  When I was young, my Mom showed us how to collect Spruce Gum from the trees for a sticky but tasty chew.  During my project, I learned that some woodsmen make little wooden boxes for the gum, to keep it for later use.  I also have a few poems about making jelly and jam.

Thinking about the value of food, I can’t forget the people for whom growing and gathering local foods is an occupation, not just a ‘hobby’.  I have written poems about the people who sell shad and fiddleheads and lobster from their roadside trucks, about children who earn their summer money by picking and selling berries, and, of course, about the farmer.

Last but not least, there is just the joy of finding or producing and eating your own food.  I always say, the best part of a home garden is the taste of the first carrot or the snap of the first wax bean!

What do you think is the greatest value associated with growing and gathering local foods?

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

©  Jane Tims  2012

10 Responses

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  1. I get hungry for foods that are only available for a short time each year in a way that I never do for foods available year-round at the grocery store. There’s a sense of anticipation–and finding the first ripe wild strawberry, or black raspberry, or wild blueberry each year is really special.



    August 19, 2012 at 1:42 am

  2. There is something very special about gathering your own food. This has been an incredibly hot summer for picking blueberries, but despite the heat – and the fact my wild blueberry patches are small and scattered about my property, I take a quiet satisfaction in slow picking and the fact that I am becoming familiar with where the best patches are. Now the blackberries are starting…You can’t get this pleasure in a grocery store.


    Deborah Carr

    August 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    • Hi. Oh, the blackberries! Because I don’t have to bend so much, they are my favorite berries for picking. I like your description of the blueberry patches… although the blueberries grow in quite a few places on our property, I like the patches along the lane the best. Jane


      jane tims

      August 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm

  3. #1) Making the first dinner from your own garden; #2) discovering something that grows wild around you that makes delicious tea, jam, jellie, whatever. My most delicious find was that there used to be a lot of wild black cherries around here and they made marvelous tea, jelly, treacle (a liquid sweet the consistency of maple syrup) etc… Most of the trees are gone now, although I see here and there there are shoots coming up from the stumps… I also enjoy blueberry leaf tea a great deal. Raspberry leaves also make great tea.



    August 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    • Hi. Great ‘values’! I use to have raspberry leaves drying for tea all the time in my first apartment. I’ll have to try it again! Thanks for the suggestions. Jane


      jane tims

      August 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm

  4. Looking forward to your finished product! 🙂


    Jane Fritz

    August 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

  5. Fabulous, good luck with the poems, they will make a very fine book and nicely illustrated too!



    August 17, 2012 at 9:21 am

    • Hi. The hardest part is still to come… getting a publisher interested! Jane


      jane tims

      August 17, 2012 at 10:14 pm

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