Guerilla Gardening: Remote Farming With Edible Wild Plants

Elderberries

A project I’ve been involved in for well over a decade is something I call guerilla gardening. It consists of helping to spread the growth of edible wild (and not so wild) plants on undeveloped and vacant land. These aren’t gardens I spend hours daily or weekly weeding. Instead it’s more along the lines of finding good habitat for specific plant that’s useful to me and transplanting it or planting seeds there.  Once established the plants grow without any help from me, and I can come back and harvest them when they’re ready.

A specific example is jerusalem artichokes, a perennial sunflower with an edible, tuberous root, that I’ve  been working with for ten years. I use it on my land as part of my edible landscaping system, but I also transplant it in places where I think it will thrive. I’ve got a number of different patches I harvest now both near the field school and further afield. I’m also always looking for places for a new patch. The key is knowing the plant and being able to identify habitats where it will do well.

In addition to planting things in the field, I also harvest wild plants in the field and transplant them at the field school. Because they’re already growing wild in the area, I know these plants will do fine with the climate and soil conditions. They’re also usually much hardier than domesticated plants with regard to insects.

Gardens don’t have to be rectangular plots of land laid out in rows. This approach is another way of working with the land to increase the amount of usable flora, and is a great compement to an annual vegetable garden.

 

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