Food Meadows

First there were food forests which I have written about. Then there were the food savannas of Mark Shepard.

I think that there are also food meadows.  Yes, meadows are part of food savannas and of the edge of food forests but I’m going to break them out separately because in our case they are part of neither.

We have a couple of wildflower meadow areas but our thinking about them has changed since then, expanded actually.

We have a kitchen herb garden that contains mostly culinary herbs and a few medicinal herbs.  This coming year we want to add more medicinals.  The kitchen herb garden isn’t large enough and its focus is different – more immediate.  We tend to pick herbs from it daily during the summer to add to salads.  Whereas we currently use culinary herbs, we’re not yet ready to start using medicinal herbs in any significant way. Nonetheless, we have decided to grow them.

As with anything else that we have planted, they need to be in a location where they can compete with the wild remains of former pasture.  We can either create a new growing area which means new inputs and specific ongoing maintenance or we can try to integrate them into existing areas. And that’s where our wildflower meadow areas come in.  It’s a very small step to start planting herbs into these areas. In fact, many wild flowers have medicinal properties.

First, we’ll continue to increase the wildflower diversity not just for pollinators but for birds, insects, and mammals.  It’s important to have a good selection of perennials that flower at different times through the summer, preferably natives since, once established, they are likely to be more drought tolerant.

Prairie Moon has a search tool that allows you to select by month – http://www.prairiemoon.com/choosing.php?fclassid=1. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has an even better search tool –http://www.wildflower.org/plants/

Twenty native perennials for north-eastern North America

And then we’ll add medicinals to the mix – comfrey (we’re comfortable with the fact that once planted, it’s tough to remove), nettle, borage.  Some of these plants – horsetail, dandelion are also dynamic accumulators.  We will be adding other dynamic accumulators to the mix as well for harvesting for use in compost teas.    Here‘s a working spreadsheet of the herbs with notes.

So what makes this a food meadow?  In an uncultivated setting, we are intentionally planting and managing specific medicinal herbaceous plants and dynamic accumulators that can sustain us and the soil, the flora and the fauna.

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