The unfurling of ferns is a good metaphor for Elemental Design/Build this spring, as we spiral out into our first round of workshops and events in Ashland. The unfurling of ferns can also be good eating, and we’re currently investigating their viability as a greywater-fed backyard crop.I’m finalizing dates now for Ashland events, including an evening greywater talk (March 30th) as well as our first hands on workshop on greywater systems (May 3rd-5th). I’ve also scheduled presentations at Ashland Green Drinks (April 29th) and PechaKucha Night Ashland (March 24th), an awesome and inspiring event sponsored by Elemental Design/Build and Standing Stone Brewing Co.
When I lived in Vermont, fiddleheads were a favorite spring vegetable, wildcrafted by chefs and the general public alike. They’re not commonly eaten here in southern Oregon, presumably because our arid climate makes them less readily available and there are questions about edibility of native species. Redirecting greywater can introduce a constant source of nutrient-rich water to our landscapes, creating wet microclimates that can support ferns and other edibles right out our back doors.
Ostrich, lady, shield, and bracken ferns are recommended by Sam Thayer at Forager’s Harvest, though bracken ferns require cooking for edibility. These varieties range in size, flavor, and light requirements, but can be dependable understory elements in your personal food forest. I’ll be trying a few of these species experimentally as edible accents in my shady greywater garden this spring. Come to one of our events this spring to learn more!