Archive for May, 2008

May 18 2008

Talk about Wild Food! (Burdock)

Published by under Foods

Although the Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) has a quite extensive range both in Norway and most of Europe in general, it seems absent in the area I grew up. Because of that I have never tasted this wild root before. In the upper temperate/subarctic zones, such big, edible roots are only found on a very few species. It’s easily recognised by it’s large leaves.

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The plant is biennial. I dug up two roots, one was obviously from last year and one seemed like it had grown from a seed this spring. This rather big one, held by my 3 year old daughter is probably on it’s second year. It was quite hard to dig up, dispite nice loamy soil because of a large number of rocks.

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The way I do it with such roots is that I skin off the outer layer, I know a lot of people scrape them and wash them, but I don’t think it’s worth the hassle. And with a few species, like Cow Parsley the bitter taste is found in the outer layer and removing it will make it good (but bland) with only one cooking instead of several. Whether this is also true of burdock I can not tell, since I haven’t tried anything else than removing the outer shell.

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Young roots seems quite pleasant to eat raw and has a nice texture not unlike bamboo shoots. The older root was almost like wood and I fried it in a little oil first and then cooked it in soy for a short while. This made achieve the bamboo shoot texture and it became rather good eating. I added it to some ready made pastasauce.

The plant is medicinal (blood purifying and a number of other things) and should not be eaten in excess. Pregnant women, not at all.

One response so far

May 14 2008

Looking for a High School?

Published by under General

When I was away now for 2 weeks I was teaching at a local high school (Fyresdal Videreg√•ande Steinerskole). This isn’t the regular type of high school, but one that specializes in teaching sustainable crafts and biodynamic farming. However, it is still possible to also do the curriculum required to qualify for subsequent studies at university or college.

Details about the school:

  • It’s a large farm/ranch owned by a foundation. They have sheep, cattle, swine etc… And quite extensive vegetable gardens. All ecological and run on biodynamical principles.
  • The school is a Rudolf Steiner School.
  • The location is quite remote and located in the sparcely populated muncipality of Fyresdal. Remember, you can walk around wherever you want in Norway. Trespassing isn’t an issue. That gives you plenty of opportunity for outdoors life.
  • There are two directions you can take to achieve a proffession at this school: ecological agriculture (+ forestry, crafts etc.) and ecological construction.
  • As a student at this school you are allowed to hunt, trap and fish for free on several thousand acres of land. In regards to hunting and trapping you still need to pass the government issued test before you qualify.
  • You have the opportunity to live in a dorm at the school. The food produced at the farm is by large consumed by the students.

From this autumn I’ll be teaching outdoors life (3 seperate weeks of fieldtrips around in the terrain. ) which I’m allowed to impart my own angle on (will of course include primitive skills) and some crafts.

If you are interested in more information, I’d advice that you drop them a mail.

Various photos of the school:

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The sheep at the school are of the Norwegian stone age type (though not totally pure).

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The mountains behind the farm makes for quite good scenery.

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This is the main area of the school. Not all of the buildings are so easy to see from this point of view.

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Photo of various working buildings. There are is a building dedicated to wood working a smithy etc…

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Some rather small examples of buildings built with sustainable methods. The one to the left is a traditional timber cabin, the one to the right is a hay bale house.

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A closer look at one of the vegetable gardens and a part of the orchard.

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The second vegetable garden, with the barn at left and you can probably see some cows and a greenhouse on the photo too.

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Some of the students (They aren’t all males, though it appears to be from this photo) .

4 responses so far

May 11 2008

Ditching Civilisation!

Thank you very much for your donations, Geralyn and Ian!

The process is about to take a new major step for me. From July and on I’m actually living in the great outdoors 100% self-sufficiently (I hope). Will not tell exactly where, but it’s a place of great many resources. I have been down there now starting a garden, since I probably will need that the first years until my skills are up to feeding myself completely off wild food. When making my garden, I’ve used sort of a mix between Native American “three sisters gardening” and Ecology action’s “grow biointensive method”. To manage to do all this in my limited timeframe I used modern tools. The soil I’m growing on haven’t been in use for crops for about 150 years. In case someone interested I’ll post a little bit more about the process I used here:

1. The thick mats of grass were removed and piled onto the compost pile (background of photo).

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2. The composted sheep manure was spread ontop.

3. I double dug the beds, with extra depth (about 50 cm). The potatoes were planted in the upper part of half a bed. Some beds also had fish and prawns incorporated into the upper layer as extra fertilizer (three sisters gardening style). The idea is that these release nutrients slowly. I do however because of this live in fear of foxes and badgers digging up my garden.

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4. Sunflowers, corn, kohlrabi, carrots and peas were sown.

5. The whole area was watered several times over several days. This is a very dry, sunny spot, so the upper few inches are prone to drought. However, I think it’s unlikely that the lower part of the beds will ever dry up since rainfall in the area is quite substantial.

6. The beds + some extra, for later expansion was fenced in to prevent game and sheep from destroying my crops. About half the garden (plus one brother) is showing on this photo. The current size is approximately 350 square feet.

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List of the things I have currently sown in my conventional garden (not my forest garden, which I also have started):

  • Sunflower
  • Corn
  • Potato
  • Carrots
  • Kohlrabi
  • Peas
  • Caraway
  • Great Burdock
  • Nettle
  • Tansy

Many more are to come, yarrow and a few other species grow around the edges. Recommended books about three sisters gardening and the grow biointensive method can be found here.

A few aspens had to (and more still has to) be felled in order to give the garden full sun. Conveniently enough, the bark goes off easily now and it will make the waterproof layer of the roof. Aspen makes excellent firewood too. The bark is currently weighed down with rocks to prevent it from curling while drying. This bark can also be used for buckets such as the one in the picture.

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However, the main reason for me going down there this time was that I was to work on the local agricultural/ecological high school. I’ll write more about that later.

I’m closing applications for the second course, since there doesn’t appear to be adequate interest in these courses. There are currently 2 more places left on the first course.

3 responses so far