It’s Thursday again, which means it is time to count our blessings. Today I am especially thankful for the great abundance of black raspberries that surround our property. We live in the middle of our rural town on 3/4 of an acre (that is a whole other post for another week), and a good 75% or more of the perimeter is bordered by black raspberry canes. So far I have picked a total of 12 quarts, plus two that my mother came over and picked. We’re not done yet, and I have neglected picking for a couple of days now. Overload has set in.
There are so many raspberries that I cannot possibly pick them all. The canes are clumped together and some grow so high that I cannot reach them. I explained to my children that it is perfectly fine to not pick every last ripe berry. It is good to leave some for the birds and bugs to enjoy. We may pick the ones that we can easily reach, or with a little stretch, but we are not the only ones who enjoy berries and we need to share.
Upsetting the plants
My son got a little upset this evening as we were picking. At nine years old, he is coming to understand that he is not the center of the world, and he is starting to really see other people’s viewpoints. I suspect (though I may be wrong) that this may be part of what the Waldorf pedagogy calls the nine year change. He was worried that we were upsetting the plants by picking all of the berries.
I told him that it is quite alright to pick the berries, but we should definitely say thank you, and we should leave some for the bugs and birds and not be greedy. We should also only pick the berries that are ripe and want to be picked. I showed him how to roll the berry off of the stem, and how it practically falls off all by itself when it is really ripe. I admonished him to not struggle to pick any. If he is struggling, then leave the berry for someone else or for another time. It will not go to waste. If I don’t pick it, or if he doesn’t pick it another time, then bugs or birds will eat it, or it will fall to the ground and start a new plant. There is no waste.
Free food and medicine
I am so thankful for free food. These berries are completely uncultivated by me. I don’t know if they were once cultivated in the past, but I am lazy and do nothing to them. They grow all by themselves and convert sunshine and water into juicy cheesecake topping and jam. Using current grocery store prices for organic berries, we have picked about $125 of berries in the last two weeks for free, plus another $20 for my mom. And my 14-year-old daughter makes such delicious cheesecake as a base for enjoying this natural abundance.
This is not to say that there is no downside to picking berries. Those canes have sharp thorns, and one of these days I will remember to wear long sleeves. But where there are thorns, there seems to often be jewelweed nearby. Two years ago I made a balm of jewelweed using this recipe. It is so soothing to my scratched up arms. And the best part is that the jewelweed is free here, too. It grows right alongside many patches of berries and tucked into a corner of my house is a nice big patch of the beautiful orange flower.
Do you have free food growing nearby? Do you harvest it? Share your favorites in the comments below.
Updated 7/21/16 to correct quantities and prices.