Eatable Weeds

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

My brother growls at his wife for eating weeds. I remember eating those weeds myself as a child. They are clover-like with tiny yellow blossoms and a delightful sour flavor. Iíve never found their like for sale in a supermarket. Why my brother has such a fit over the weeds is beyond me. All the leafy greens now used to make a salad were at one time considered weeds. The sour clovers are too small for commercial use so they have remained "weeds."

Of course there is a large weed that pretty much matches the yellow blossomed clover for sour flavor: sorrel, French and Garden!

I was introduced to the herb sorrel a couple of years ago when I stopped at "Willow Pond Farm" near Fairfield, Pa. Weíd been by the farm a dozen times on our snack trips to the mart in Fairfield. Wanda was interested in what had been done to the farm because sheíd gone to school with people who used to live there. I was intrigued by the flower beds and the inconspicuous sign claiming the farm was "CLOSED." When the sign wasnít there, was it "OPEN"? I had to find out. Low-key, nice flowers, time to stop.

We didnít plan on a tour of the farm, but we got one! Edible flower bed, medicinal flower bed, Biblical plant bed, perennials, biennials and annuals. Most of the plantings were herbal, though there were some for just plain fun.

We were encouraged to taste all the culinary herbs, and the sorrel instantly brought to mind the flavor of sour clover. We bought a French and a Garden. The French has since been pulled up and composted. It didnít agree with my tongue or stomach. The Garden sorrel has become a friend though.

I pulled and washed several large leaves, and wrapped grilled hamburgers with them. They werenít bad without salt and mustard, a combination I love, but fear Doc Curley will someday suggest I leave be. So sorrel is being cultivated to replace the salt. The sorrel went well with ham sandwiches too.

This year we stopped to see what was new. I guess itís a pergola, easily seen from the road. Various vines (grapes to roses) are planted along its length. Within its shade benches await the winded explorer. I plan to visit more often as the vines grow. The contraption impressed me.

In fact, the whole farm impresses me. Many of the plants Iíve admired in seed catalogs are growing well into their 3rd year, or longer. I get to see the plant up close! Do I have room for it? What insects bother it? How does it taste? How does it look alongside other plants? How much trouble is it? Does it spread, re-seed, or die out after a couple of seasons?

While questions about plant habits were coming to mind, their uses in the kitchen were considered. I needed something for a duck. We bought a pot of rosemary and another of thyme. I couldnít get it fresher except from my own garden, which I can do now.

Willow Pond Farm has many points of interest that I wonít mention because I havenít explored them myself. Exploration by the Internet begins at:

www.willowpondherbs.com/ but walking the farm is the only real way to enjoy the place and people that make Willow Pond Farm interesting.

Give them a call at 717-642-6387, and find out when you can explore. The farm sure beats the mall and you might find a "weed" that captures your taste buds.

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