Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good heaven's .... It's August

I don't know where the summer has gone....  I seem to have lost July completely and it's already mid-August.  The good news is that the 90 degree temperatures are now in the 80's and nights are getting cooler.  Think camping.  It's just about time to put up the tent, gather 'round the campfire, listen to the cicada's and watch the stars.  Anyone who hasn't done this does not know what s/he's missing.

Mushrooms are up again thanks to the hint of rain that occassionally occurs these days.  It might be on your block or it might be in your mother-in-laws block but there has been some rain and with some ferocity.  Where'ere it has occurred there are mushrooms.  Boletes, chanterelles, indigo lactaria.... the key here is that you make sure you are traveling with someone who knows what those mushrooms are.  One does not dabble in mushrooms.  Neither does one dabble in weeds...the edible types.

This past Sunday on the CBS program Sunday Morning, they did a wonderful segment on "weeds".  Guess what!  They started with the Palmer Amaranth, the same plant the Monica Pearson started with on her program regarding weeds.  I wrote about amaranth earlier in this blog and I'm sure you can find it if you are interested but the long and short of weeds is that they are organic vegetables or fruits and are probably more nutritious than those we buy at the grocery store.  Why?

Let's just say that in order for a weed or wild fruit to survive they have to establish relationships with their environment;  healthy relationships.  These are not just passing fancies like having a crush on the local blade of grass.  No.  They are intense relationships that allow the plant to thrive vibrantly.  First of all, no plant thrives without a fungal relationship to help sustain it in sickeness and in health.  It is though that fungus provide, not only antibiotic properties to specific partner-plants, but that they also provide certain nutritional suppliments to the plants.  In return, the plant provides sustainance to the fungus and the marriage remains intact throughout the life of both. 

Then, there are the relationships that plants establish with animals.  Now that isn't something we think about with any regularity but here goes.  A plant requires fertilization, doesn't it?  Who is going to do it?  It could be the wind just as much as it could be an ant or a bee or a bird or a passing marsupial.... the point is, if a plant is to be fertilized for procreative purposes chances are it will be an animal of some sort. 

Then there is the other side of the coin.  Animals need to eat.  What are they going to eat.  Most of us are familiar with cabbage caterpillars and japanese beetles and other pesty critters that decimate our gardens but the cold hard fact is that these creatures need food.  Just off the top of my head:  cows eat grass, so do cats and dogs.  Bears eat berries.  Birds eat berries and seeds.  If you want to kill off a species all you have to do is get rid of the particular food that species eats.  Panda's, for example, eat only bamboo.  Koala bears only eat eucalyptus leaves.  I am sure that there is a plethora of other animals that are equally finiky and with the destruction of habitat are left without food. 

Riddle:  what is the wonderful thing about hippopotomi?  Answer:  they rid the waterways of water hyacynths which would normally clog up the rivers. 

I can hear you saying, even now...well, we don't have hippopotomi in Georgia, so what is the point?  The point is that all creatures, great and small, are interdependent upon each other.  The reason that wild foods survive and thrive is because the interdependencies are strong and thriving.  This, in turn, makes the vitamins and minerals in the wild plants, robust which is why the label "organic" is so important when it comes to edible products.

It is fall.  The apples are coming in.  The mushrooms are coming up.  Nuts will be ready to harvest shortly.  All are organic.  All are healthy.  Time to learn something about foraging.  Sign up with your local park ranger or local mushroom club or foraging expert.  It not only saves your budget but it adds a richness to your dinner table.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Morgan Falls

It's mid-April..... tax day. So what do we have to rejoice over?  Nature, of course.

In the birdhouse on my front lawn, a little Brown-headed nuthatch resides.  She (and it has to be a she because she doesn't leave her home) peeps out and chides me as I walk towards the mailbox.  Apparently, there are some babies within and she doesn't want anyone disturbing her moment with the children.

Morgan Falls Overlook Park is a multi-use park in Sandy Springs.  It is found at 200 Morgan Falls Road

Foamflowers and wild Hydranga's are in bloom at Morgan Falls   These plants prefer the semi-shadey environs near the reservoir and are abundant right now.  I always enjoy the bloom of the Foamflower as it has a peachy flavor to the light an airy blossoms.  .

There are concrete walkways around the park as well which makes it well suited for those with disabilties
Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350.  The first entrance is a baseball park.  The second entrance further down the road has some lovely views of the reservoir and some woodland trails with an abundance of wildflowers and birds.

Even without rain there are interesting things

The mulberry trees have just finished fruiting and now the black berries are in full swing.  Of course, there are a few thorns to negotiate but, hey..... it just makes the endeavor so much more enjoyable.  Do remember that you should not consume any wild thing that is close to the roadside lest you ingest pollutants from automobiles.

Ah, but I digress.  The mulberry is not only a lovely fruit but it has some medicinal properties as well.  It is said to help diabetics as a dietary modulator.  The new leaves make a wonderful cooked vegetable or a cold salad after poaching.  The new leaves are forthcoming all spring and summer long so there is an abundance of this truly organic vegetable for those so inclined.  In fact, middle-easterners stuff mulberry leaves like the Greeks stuff grape leaves and enjoy them year round.  (As you can see, I am always thinking about ways to improve my organic supplies in an economical way).

While the heat has been a bit overwhelming at times that doesn't change the fact that there are always some plants able to thrive and survive.  The amaranth is now up along with the curly dock.  Definately two foods not to be missed!

As for things to do....

Wed. June 6 and 7 - Childrens walk at Kennesaw Mt. National Battlefield National Park.  Starts at 10am and ends at 11:30am. 

June 9 - Kids fish for fun   Aquarium, Warm Springs.  http://www.warmspringsfishfriends.org/   706-655-3382
                                             Also:    Walker State Park, Waycross  www.gastateparks.org/lauraswalker

June 9-10  Blairsville Scottish and Highland Festival  http://www.blairsvillescottishfestival.org/   706-745-2161

 June 10  Second Sundays on the Farm   Gen. Coffee State Park, Demostrations of life on a farm in the 1800's.  www.gastateparks.org/generalcoffee 

June 16 - Horse Show  Wills Park Equestrian Center  http://www.alpharetta.ga.us.com/  678-297-6000
June 16,  Senior Fishing Rodeo   A.H. Stephens Historic Park  Crawfordsville  www.gastateparks.org/ahstephens

June 22-24  Dixie Dock Dogs, http://www.dixiedockdogs.com/  706-946-6366

I'm sure there is a lot more to do in Georgia but we limit ourselves to the out of doors... things like fishing, foraging, hiking, birding....  Please let us know if you have an activity that you wish to list.  Contact is:  funghiwoman@gmail.com

Friday, March 30, 2012

Doesn't time fly by

Here it is - the end of March and the red buds have come and gone.  What should be blooming at this time of year - is not.  What shouldn't be - is.  The poison ivy is rampant because of the elevated CO2 levels.  Translation -- the more CO2 that is in the atmosphere, the greener and more vibrant the flora.  Why, because plants breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.  Yet another reason not to cut down the trees and rid ourselves of the greenspace.

In the last two weeks we have been walking the woods at Kennesaw Mt. and talking about the wildflowers we see.  Not only that, we've shared recipes for all kinds of lovely eats.  For example:  I just had squash cakes stuffed with curly dock this week.  They were truly yummy and not to be missed.  The bloodroot has already bloomed, the downy yellow violets are up along with the sweet shrubs (aka Carolina Allspice).  Trilliums are on the upside of blooming along with the geraniums, pinxter flowers (native azaleas), Indian pinks and little brown jugs. And, if I haven't mentioned it..... poison ivy.  It is all over the place so beware!

Tomorrow I have one more walk and then the season is over for wilflowers.  I would recommend that you take a trip out to Shirley Miller's Wildflower walk in north Georgia.  It is located in the Pocket and can easily be found using google.  Miller is still blooming prolically and is truly a spot not to be missed.  If you think you know what heaven looks like..... think, Shirley Miller.

See you again soon and have a beautiful day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

And Now the Government is invading the farmer's market and, in particular Pastured Poultry

Invitation to a white paper launch event and film screening
The new group, Georgians for Pastured Poultry to unveil a white paper and supporting film
Thursday February 9th 2012
Please join us as we reveal the impacts that factory farmed chicken is having in the state of Georgia and the growing market for an alternative: pastured poultry. This has been produced by a multi-stakeholder working group, Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP),  looking for a future that is better for animal welfare, the environment, human health, farmers and workers. A supporting film will also be shown at the event featuring members insights and an inside look at both chicken factory farming and pastured poultry farming.

On February 9th, at 11:30am, GPP will launch its 2012 campaign detailing the impacts of chicken factory farming in the state of Georgia, and promoting a positive alternative route that each of us can take in supporting pastured poultry farming. We will be serving a light lunch with pasture raised chicken at the event.
Date: Thursday February 9th, 2012
Screening of the film: 11:35am
Photocall and Q & A: 11:55am
Lunch: 12:05pm
Location: Luckie Food Lounge, 375 Luckie St. Atlanta, GA 30313
New Group Forms to Shift Poultry in Georgia From Factories to Farms
Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP), a new advocacy group, is releasing a white paper showing the damage chicken factories are having on the state, and promotes a humane and sustainable alternative: pasture raised chicken.
GPP is made up of Georgia-based farmers, chefs, animal welfare advocates, environmentalists, and health professionals, and stresses pasture-raised chicken as an alternative to the harmful chicken factories that dominate the state’s geographical and political landscape.
The impact of these factories is detailed in a report that will be released on Thursday, February 9, at the Luckie Food Lounge in Atlanta. The event will also serve as the launch of Georgians for Pastured Poultry. A short investigative film supporting the report, produced by one of the founding members, Compassion in World Farming, will debut at the launch. 
“For the first time, we know the price Georgia is paying to be the largest producer of chicken meat in the county,” said Leah Garcés, USA Director of Compassion in World Farming, the lead founding member of GPP. “The cost to people, to our environment and to the welfare of chickens is simply too great. We want a future for Georgia that is better than the future that chicken factory farming has to offer. To that end, we have formed Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP).”
Colleen Kiernan, Georgia Chapter Director of Sierra Club, also a founding member of GPP said, “We plan to work with food citizens, farmers and businesses alike to shift the market toward pasture raised chicken.”
The report reveals Georgia’s industrial poultry operations produce enormous volumes of excrement, which washes into waterways. Collectively, they generate approximately 2 million tons of poultry litter annually, about 20% of the US total. The factory farming of chicken is having a negative impact on human health in the form of foodborne illnesses and antibiotic resistance. Food illnesses related to poultry consumption cost the United States over $2.4 billion annually, more than any other food.
In addition, the modern broiler chicken is unnaturally large and has been bred to grow at an unnaturally fast rate, resulting in devastating leg disorders and heart and lung problems, the report states.
Attendees at the launch event are expected to include food retailers, food writers, chefs, legislators and media.  This launch comes just weeks after the International Poultry Expo was held in Atlanta, where 25,000 poultry professionals gathered to discuss the industry’s future.
Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures and a GPP founding member says: “Chickens were born to scratch and peck. These are natural instinctive animal behaviors. Unfortunately, industrial commodity livestock production removes costs from meat production systems by raising animals in mono-cultural confinement systems that do not allow these instinctive behaviors.”
The launch comes of Georgians for Pastured Poultry and the release of this report comes at a time when fair, humane and sustainable food choices are on the rise in Georgia.
Since 2005, Georgia has seen a 600% increase in farmers markets.
“This trend shows that people are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced,” says Jennifer Owens, Director of Advocacy for Georgia Organics, also a founding member of GFPP. “It’s all about choice in the market, and more and more people are choosing the fair, humane and sustainable option.”
GPP’s vision is for Georgia to become the leading state in the production and consumption of pasture raised poultry, where animal welfare, human and environmental health, and farmer and worker well being are equal to economics in the farming of chickens.
When: Thursday, Feb. 9, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Where:  Luckie Food Lounge (375 Luckie Street Northwest  Atlanta, GA 30313).
Please note:  A light lunch including pasture-raised chicken will be served.
Please RSVP for the event @ RSVP@ciwf.org
Georgians for Pastured Poultry consists of:
·         Compassion in World Farming
·         Darby Farms
·         Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans & Chefs
·         Georgia Organics
·         GreenLaw
·         Sierra Club
·         White Oak Pastures
GPP would like to thank Whole Foods Market® South Region for its contributions as a Special Advisor.
Leah Garcés, Compassion in World Farming: 404.313.7838, Leah.Garces@ciwf.org
Melissa Libby, Mellissa Libby and Associates: 404.816.3068, Melissa@melissalibbypr.com

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW)

Becoming and Outdoors Woman (BOW) is a group NOT limited to women.  Their mission is, however, to introduce women to outdoor activities.  Many states have Women in the Outdoor activities wherein they can learn to hunt, shoot a gun, camp, canoe, use bows and arrows etc.  I personally think it is quite a wonderful opportunity to expand one's outdoor repertoire. 

Upon checking with the Georgia DNR, I received this letter from Linda Mays:

"Thank you for your interest in women's outdoor programming.  The GA DNR hosted BOW programs in the 1990s but formally partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation to host "Women in the Outdoors (WITO)" programs thereafter.  My latest understanding is that both WITO and BOW events can now be offered in Georgia, so you may see both types events advertised this year (they both offer very similar classes).  DNR's Parks Division also offers educational programs for women, such as the "Women for the Woods" program scheduled for April 14:   http://gastateparks.org/event/183605?locationid=97&p=97&c=4342677

I didn't see any upcoming WITO events for Georgia online (
www.womenintheoutdoors.org), but DNR's Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, GA (east of Atlanta - www.georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliott) is planning a BOW event for fall 2012.  For more information on that event, please contact Jody Rice at 770.784.3064.

Best regards,
Linda May

Linda May, Environmental Outreach Coordinator
GA Department of Natural Resources"

I wanted to share that with all of you so that if you have an interest in sharing outdoor activites with other women you will not only look on this website but will also check the sites that Linda mentioned.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Little Garden Spider

Argiope aurantia
Winter comes with bitter sweetness.  For many, many months my breakfast companion has been this lovely little garden spider.  She has spun her web over and over again but, with the onset of winter her efforts have been less industrious.

In October , my spider spun an egg case under the light by the patio door.  It was like magic.  I went to bed that night and by morning, there it was, hanging like a little purse portending the future.  I can only imagine how fast she spun that cocoon of life.  It was roughly the size of a silver dollar.  As the day passed, it dried and shank by one third and there it hung while she resumed her post in the web.

One month later, another egg case arrived quite near the first one and again, she resumed her position in the web.  It was November and her web was becoming less intensive.  The zig-zag element of the structure was not nearly as robust.  Sometimes the top wasn't there at all and only the bottom portion of the zig-zag was made.  On other occassions, there was no zig-zag at all just an array of silk reminiscent of pulled cotton.  Just as I was worried about the onset of cold weather, my friend, spun one more egg case - also in the corner by the other two.  Now, it looked like a pre-cursor of Christmas...three little ornaments in the corner of my house.

A certain sadness crept over me as the winds started to whine.  Temperatures dropped and yet, my little spider remained in her web.  Then, the temperature dropped into the twenties for two days in a row and my spider was gone.  My friend of many months had simply disappeared.  She was no where to be seen.  On the fourth day I looked again on the bricks below her eroding web and I thought sure I saw her.  I went out onto the patio and sure enough....she was there in a little ball.  Now, I know it seems peculiar that a mature adult might feel so terrible but I decided I would bury her out of respect for her simple being.  Just as I picked her up, she moved.... could it be....was she still alive????  Indeed she was and my heart was glad.  I left her on the patio where I found her not knowing what the next day would bring but knowing that I had thanked her for her companionship and wished her well.

Ahhh  Next morning I awoke to find her back in her web facing my breakfast table and making my day one of delight.  It is January 11, 2012 and she is still with me for the time that has been given to her and hence, to me.  I have learned about beauty;  I have learned about spinnerts and spinning;  I have learned about egg cases and the quietude of companionship.  She has blessed my days and, come spring her offspring, will bless my days again.