Appalachian Plants & People - class notes

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Appalachian Plants & People - class notes

Ago 29, 2023, 2:56 pm

First class was last Thursday, Aug. 24.

Professor Hall Sarah L. Hall specialized in forestry and grassland restoration during her advanced degree work.

We reviewed the course synopsis and talked a bit about projects and expectations.

Class meets Tuesday and Thursday, but there is a lab every Friday afternoon, which I wasn’t expecting. I may have to miss a few. (We did field work in the other classes, but during actual class time.)

We watched the bulk of episode 1 of Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People which attempts to describe the deep history of these mountains. Starts with geology.

(My notes are not full sentences.)
E. O. Wilson
“Mountains of Glory” - James Ruskin
Uplift and erosion
Central Pangea mountains
Robert Hatcher - geologist
Chris Bolgiano - The Appalachian Forest
Sister ecosystem in S. China - only 2 species of Liriodendron.
East Tennessee fossil field - Steve Wallace
Jeff Chapman - archeologist? Anthropologist?

Editado: Ago 29, 2023, 3:10 pm

First readings

Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America by E. Lucy Braun (1950) chapter 1 - poetic descriptions of history and ecology.

Plant Life of Kentucky by Ronald L. Jones (2005) University Press of Kentucky, Introduction, Section 7: The Status of Old Growth Forest in Kentucky - a review of the literature. Lots of citations, including Braun. Champion trees - more than 1 meter in diameter, and a listing of some superior in size.
Question if there has been a tree survey in the town of Berea. We most assuredly have some champion trees in my neighborhood.

Plant Biology by Linda E. Graham et al. (2006) chapter 17 Naming Plants - for beginning plant observers, gives some technical terms, etc.

Ago 29, 2023, 3:26 pm

Friday, August 25

The class went out to The Pinnacles

It was too hot to hike, so we ambled a little way along the lowest trail and examined the woods. One side is managed with controlled burns and the other hasn’t been. Discussed the differences. We were placed in small groups and challenged with the question “How would you survive if put down right here without any tools or resources?” I’m pretty sure we would fail quickly. Couldn’t even get consensus of first priorities and whether to stay under the trees or look for more open ground. Blackberries was the only food suggested, but they’re out of season.
We will keep journals for these Friday outings and are expected to write reflections.

We visited the Outreach Center and they had AC. Looked at their displays.

I had to leave early for a prior commitment, and I missed the library portion of the day. Prof. Hall has a lending library in a tote.
Today, I borrowed

Row by Row: talking with Kentucky gardeners

The American Chestnut: an environmental history

I missed the instructions; but I don’t think we are required to read the whole thing; just browse and note impressions.

Ago 31, 2023, 6:03 pm

Tuesday, August 29

Continued some of the PBS film, episode 1 and then jumped to a portion on episode 4.

DeSoto expedition Florida to the Mississippi looking for gold and decimating tribes
Deerskins traders - currency with NA
Exchange for cloth, tools, utensils, guns, decorative items
Decimate white tailed deer population
7 Cherokee warriors went to England to visit King George. Attacullaculla
1775 No treaties ever honored
Revolutionary War
Cornwallis at Sycamore Shoals Kings Mountain 1780 the mountain men fought a woodland battle. Turning point in the war.
Robert Morris - land grabber
Gold rush in Georgia
Thomas Jefferson resolved to cure the Indian question by moving them
Indians tried to a da apt to European culture.
Andrew Jackson 1838 round up the Cherokee
Fort Butler, North Carolina

Denise Giardina, Wilma Dykeman, Sharyn McCrumb

Civil War - very personal for southerners
Lumber industry
“Philadelphia lawyers” land barons
Coal River Watershed Watch

Late 19th century - Railroads

Mountain people characterized in popular press as peculiar, ignorant hillbillies. Ripe for exploitation

Night Comes to the Cumberlands

Fires from railroad sparks

Will Holland Thomas
Bought land in trust for the Cherokee

“the flower of darkness” plant fossils showed white in the coal
The broad form deed - offered particularly at tax season mineral rights + use of surface

Miners - Blacks from the south, immigrants
Broadwell, WV homes of coal millionaires
1907 floods

Focus on American Chestnut
1904 fungal disease started in New York, travelled rapidly. Pennsylvania tried to build a fire break barrier to stop it spreading.
End of the world?

Editado: Ago 31, 2023, 6:19 pm

Thursday, August 31

We met in the Appalachian Gallery in Stephenson Hall. Collection curator, Chris Miller, had pulled a variety of artifacts representing items made from plant materials and the tools to work them.
We were assigned to take pictures and ask questions and load 6 items onto Moodle, photo and descriptions. I failed this exercise for lack of technical knowledge.

Cool items though
A bee hive made from a hollowed section of black gum tree
A rhododendron clothes tree
Shave brooms/splinter brooms
A heddle using pond reeds instead of wire or wood

Silas Mason - historic professor responsible for beginning collections and also for acquiring forest lands for the college.

Which reminds me of a question at the political meeting I went to last week - the college is the largest landowner in town, but has tax free status. So the town sources of income rely largely on industry. Can that change?

Editado: Set 2, 2023, 9:08 am

Sept. 1

Class lab was at the farm of Calvin Gross today. Charming place! He runs the college library and he remembered me bringing in books donation two years ago.

The buildings are all unpainted, rustic, but tightly built and decorated with both Buddha statues and local farm and household implements. He has a red phone booth with a Superman outfit hanging inside.

The buildings are all shaded by mature forest. He has built an in-hill cold cellar!

His gardens spread out on a sunny slope with a wood greenhouse in the center.

He is an artist and a stone mason.

We helped stir a pot of apple butter.
He fed us soup beans and cornbread, along with an array of other veggies in a multitude of forms - kraut, chow-chow, etc.

He gave me a beautiful sweet pepper he claims is the sweetest in the world - Lesya, from Ukraine.
He also gave me a handful of ground cherries , which I had never tasted. After popping one in my mouth, I believe I will try growing them too.

He’s got a structure of white oak logs he says have been producing shiitake mushrooms for 15 years.
Castor beans repel moles.
Boiled eggshell spray will prevent tomato blossom end rot.

He comes from Sand Gap, KY which had a coal mine on fire for decades.

He’s a discerning collector and allowed us to spend time in his “museum” structure.

Set 4, 2023, 9:35 pm

Working on a four page essay due Wednesday midnight. Where and when would you choose to live in Appalachia’s past. Describe what you’d do. Refer to at least two plants we’ve discussed. Four references using two we've already used in class.
I’m going to western North Carolina during the 1830-40s time period to assist Yonaguska and Will Holland Thomas to acquire lands for the Cherokee and prevent their removal to the west.
And I want to see mature American Chestnut trees and experience their bounty.
Haven’t decided the second plant yet. Ramps, maybe.

Editado: Set 6, 2023, 9:50 am

System threw me off in the middle of writing this post. I will try again when I feel better. Ouch!

Tuesday, Sept. 5

This class session was about learning how to identify plants. Some of the young people have never had this exposure, and I thought this also should have been covered at the beginning of the Weeds class.
Prof. Hall is very logical and prepared.

We began with a review of general botanical terms.
Then we were sent outside to collect some specimens. Jasmine* and I brought ten items back in and we used Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide to identify them. It’s keyed for beginners, but I don’t like it as well as Peterson’s field guide.
It starts by counting flower “parts.” Seems what he means is petals? It worked okay.
It did not cover one of the invasives, but I was able to google it. Native virgin’s bower has soft serrated leaves. Yam-leaf virgin’s bower has thicker smooth edged leaves.

*we also have a student named Iris, and another named Ivory!

Set 6, 2023, 8:49 pm

I spent a few hours at the library and plumped up my essay. Submitted it 8 hours before it was due. Writing a research paper is less fun than working hard in my gardens.

Came home and mowed the whole yard to get the kinks out.

Set 7, 2023, 1:17 pm

Thursday, Sept. 7

We met at the college library today, which means using a different parking lot and climbing a grassy hill. I knew I’d worn the wrong shoes almost immediately. Old tennies with no grip left. I made it up the hill, but had to remove my shoes after falling in a heap going back down after class.

Technical problems did not stop there.
We are creating a plant list in an Excel-like spreadsheet in Moodle. Her point is we need to continue to utilize printed materials and not just rely on our phones.
But I has to close out to cure a tech issue and have serious password issues now. I went right over to the IT dept. and the student couldn’t help me, as my laptop is not college issued. Sigh. Staff was at lunch, so I will have to return later or tomorrow.

Class assignment - 30 plants, with uses and citations. That’s an ambitious amount. I got to 16. Another student only got to 8.
I did find a couple of books to take home.

Set 7, 2023, 4:01 pm

I trudged back to the IT department (wearing other shoes) and got my password sorted on both laptop and phone, Moodle and college wi-fi. I should be good for classroom assignments again. Now to find another dozen+ plants for my list.

Editado: Set 8, 2023, 1:47 pm

Readings in forestry, I find the concept of “champion trees” noted for their size. They qualify if their diameter is 1 meter or more.
314cm is 124 inches or so.
My maple tree measures 125 inches.
I wonder if anyone has completed a tree survey in Berea. Probably lots of trees on campus are that large, and my neighborhood probably has others as well.

Editado: Set 12, 2023, 3:25 pm

Tuesday, September 12

We are being introduced to different parts of campus. This is much more a cultural experience than I expected.
Today we met at the Doris Ulmann Gallery

We got a tour by the curator and her collections manager. I saw a Picasso, a Mary Cassett and an awesome (but smaller than expected) Thomas Moran.

They had pulled some examples from the 99% of the collection in storage. All plant related, some locally tied. We did “slow looking” and then talked about what we saw, thought and felt.

Then we had to take pictures and add one to a Moodle discussion. Laine helped me navigate the technicalities of that process. Whew!

Later this week, we will discuss foods made from local plants. I asked teach if I could bring some blackberry cordial “for educational purposes only.” She’s checking school policy so that neither of us will get in trouble. The Gallery staff overheard us and signaled they’d love for me to drop by again. I will have to do so, with bottle. It’s a place I will definitely visit again of it’s own rewards.

Set 14, 2023, 10:01 am

I think I just came up with the title of the major paper project we’re assigned.

In Case of Crisis - food security in the Berea community

Editado: Set 19, 2023, 12:50 pm

Reference found in Richmond library
Madison County Room 641.563 Dou 2019 / 39928005325805

Wild yet tasty : a guide to edible plants of eastern Kentucky
Dan Dourson

Set 19, 2023, 4:22 pm

Thursday, Sept. 14

I don’t have much in the way of notes for last week.
I know we each talked briefly about what our final project will be.
Chris said he hopes to do his on the American Chestnut, so I returned Dr. Hall’s copy of the Davies book so he could use it.
Laine has been working in the broom workshop on campus for several terms, and that’s his topic, using local plant materials. I invited him to harvest broom grass on my ridgetop.
Melissa wants to research plant pharmacology for animals. That sounds fascinating.

The Friday lab was at Brushy Fork, which runs through town, and they were harvesting goldenrod and making a tea.

Since I was out of town, I missed it.

But there is an opportunity to work a couple of afternoons at the college gardens helping to save seeds. I signed up for that. Don’t forget to journal about it, Ruth.
We will be working on a group project posting about local plants in three categories: medicine, food and craft. That assignment is open and ongoing.

Editado: Set 19, 2023, 4:34 pm

Tuesday, Sept. 20

The subject is Planting by the Signs.
She wrote the book on this - Sown in the Stars. I reserved the library copy.

Most of class was watching short films and a PowerPoint.
First, a tutorial on tides and the moon.
There appear to be many different systems that vary even internally between astronomy and astrology. We looked at various publications - Farmer’s Almanac, Old Farmer’s Almanac, Llewelyn’s publication, etc.
I think it’s mostly hogwash.

There was a Moodle quiz due by the start of class, but I missed the deadline. It covered one of the Foxfire readings.

Oh, there was a gnarly Appalshop film from the 1970s - Catfish: Man of the Woods. I found it offensive on a variety of levels.

Editado: Set 21, 2023, 7:57 am

Selling seed to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange



Laurie White
Jim Embry

Twin Oaks
Intentional communities in Va. does the packaging.

Janet Meyer - gardens manager

You can contact me with any questions.
Laurie White (she/her)
Central Ky Local Food Coordinator
Community Farm Alliance
(859) 428-7961 call or text
Real change comes from the ground up.

Editado: Set 21, 2023, 6:09 pm

30 Sustainable Development Goals

Democratize seed
Wrest from the monopolies

Seed hub
Seed Commons

Cumberland River
Lebanon, TN
Al Gore

Reclaim seed production at the local level

Okra oil

Ujamaa cooperative farming alliance

Set 21, 2023, 12:46 pm

18 and 19 were notes I took yesterday for a workshop on seed saving, held at the college gardens.
Because the college largely operates organically, they qualify to grow and sell seeds as organic. They have a contract with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for the plants listed in 18. I saw the contract. They get $40/ounce pepper and tomato seeds!! That makes no sense to me, but I didn’t dive into it.
I did see a catalog for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and it’s a thing of beauty. Must get hands on one for further perusal.

We harvested Cosmos seeds.

I made several contacts in pursuit of my research project. Jim Embry met with us just after he had done a Zoom presentation at the United Nations on seed security. That’s what he told us.

Set 21, 2023, 1:14 pm

Thursday, Sept. 21.

Class met at the college gardens and I’m on a first name basis now with two of the managers.

We toured some of the plots and high tunnels.
We discussed traditional Appalachian subsistence foods and compared the list to what the college grows and what it doesn’t grow.
For instance, they don’t grow beans because the student labor is not available during the harvest season.
Selling squash (to the cafeteria and to a restaurant distributor) became not cost effective when the processor raised price from $1/pound to $2, and went from cubing to chunking the product.
Janet called it “the invisible middle of agriculture.”

Erin Miller, from the on campus weaving workshop, gave us tour of the dye garden.
Dyers camomile, madder (stickly vine), Japanese indigo, Hopi sunflower (seed husks produce purple), African marigold (4 ft tall plants), coreopsis, cosmos.
She brought fabric samples and some other plant materials that they harvest - sumac seed, elder cones, black walnuts, acorns. I want to play!!
She says the vegetable colors like berries and beets are not stable and fade to brown quickly.☹️
They’ve been experimenting with powdering dyes, changing the pH so the color binds to metal salts. She showed a sweet little palette. I’ll post a picture later.

Hunter showed us his broom corn field. This is the first year, so they experimented with spacing, plant times, etc.
The students make brooms as one of the local crafts the college teaches. Laine says they’ve historically bought their broom corn from somewhere in Arkansas.
It used to be grown in this area as a cash crop, and others are picking up on it recently. Cynthia Main, owner of Sunhouse Craft on Chestnut St., has a few acres.
He explained harvest and processing. Before harvest, there is a tabling stage, bending the stalk so that the tassel fibers lay flat, not bowed.
After cut and dry, they use a rotating hackle to remove the seed from the fibers. The seed is nutritious for chicken flocks. Other growers just comb the seeds out with devices with metal tines.

Editado: Set 21, 2023, 1:24 pm

And the broomcorn is rainbow, the fibers drying to various shades of red, purple and brown.

Set 23, 2023, 4:18 pm

Friday Sept. 22

We went to Salamander Springs Farm for the afternoon.

They are harvesting and processing corn. Popcorn and Kentucky Rainbow as well as Bloody Butcher. The latter two ground for cornmeal. She’s got a great antique fly-wheel sheller.

Also chia and mullein seed.
She sells to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

She’s not focusing so much on market produce farming anymore. She called it landrace farming, and I haven’t looked up the term.
She’s fortunate to have the college nearby, as her seasonal labor is student interns. She’s set up to have them camp there and has an open air kitchen for communal use. I’m sure they all love the experience.

She described seed selection as nearly kernel by kernel, choosing for size and vigor.

Quoted several times:
“Corn tastes better on the honor system.”

We wandered through her gardens and she pointed out natives and introduced species. She explained her permaculture practices. (She is one of my fall competitors for leaves in town.)
I noticed she has a regal sized pineapple sage. I had pointed her to the plant half a dozen years ago when she said she needed a late season flower.

She grows rice!

As we were loading into the van, she recognized that we had met before, and I told her the context.
Impressive lady!

Set 25, 2023, 4:58 pm

Food Security in the Berea Community

The Appalachian people are self reliant. They've had to be.

First I want to research what systems and programs are in place for families in need. Federal, State, local, non-profits, etc.

I volunteered at RITI (Room in the Inn) last season, and I've worried about the homeless since.

Second, I'd like to investigate whether city, county and college have done any planning, short or longterm, for any disruptions in food supply. I'd like to inventory food supplies that can reasonably be expected to be nearby.

The seed harvesting workshop at the college gardens today was so informative.

Back when I first worked for USDA in the 70s, we were told that in case of emergency or crisis, it was our job to secure the food supply. Nobody told us how or gave us any tools. I was appalled, and also amused. Had the National Office never read any TEOTWAWKI* fiction?

*The End Of The World As We Know It

Prof. Hall's feedback:

I would encourage you to meet with and talk to Richard Olsen (Sustainable Berea, former BC SENS faculty member) as he has done more than anyone else I know for getting food resources via perennial fruit and nut crops into the community, with an eye towards simply making food available. Whether it's successful at that or not is perhaps a different aspect (which could be included or not). Grow Appalachia would also be good to meet with and talk to (although their work goes beyond Berea it does also take place here). The most recent case study in food supply disruption was the pandemic- and David Little (current Farm Store manager) might be a good person to talk to about what the Farm Store did to continue supplying the community with food. Berea Kids Eat (part of Grow Appalachia) also supplied a HUGE amount of food during the pandemic, and lots of it was from local farms (Martina LeForce is the contact for that). You could even just focus in on lessons from the pandemic for the scope of the paper.

Set 25, 2023, 5:06 pm

Berea College’s Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS), along with Berea College Alumni Relations and the Berea Food Bank, are teaming up to host a community event to help address food insecurity issues in the community.

The Better Together event will start with a 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Berea City Park. Other events will include food, games and activities for kids, as well as a kids dash. Events will conclude at 11 a.m.

“The need at the Berea Food Bank continues to grow with demand higher than it was during the worst of COVID,” said Sarah Rohrer, associate director of CELTS. “This year marks the 30th anniversary of this collaboration – previously called the Hunger Hurts Food Drive. Eventually, we hope such work will not be so urgent; we hope the future includes people having access to the food they need. But for now, we want to make sure our neighbors and their families have food to eat today, tomorrow, and next week. We’re excited this event will help to continue our collaboration with the Berea Food Bank – both to help address food insecurity issues, and to raise awareness of the need.”

The Berea Food Bank uses the funds raised to provide families in need of support with quality foods and to support their newer efforts like collaborations with the Berea Police Department and Family Resource and Youth Service Centers.

Set 25, 2023, 5:18 pm

We focus on many levels of food security because we see the need to think and work holistically to ensure individuals and families have access to the healthy food.

Our approach:

Facilitate a network of organizations and leaders working to support food security across the region

Distribute garden resources and hold classes

Provide technical assistance to farmers and market gardeners

Host farm field days and create online training videos

Ensure access to high tunnel infrastructure and protected growing systems

Invest in community infrastructure through commercial kitchens and farmers markets

Combat childhood hunger relief via feeding programs and nutrition education

Candace Mullins - Executive Director
Martina Leforce - Berea Kids Eat Coordinator
Faye Adams-Eaton
Associate Director of Strategic Impact
David Cooke
Founder & Advisor
Taye Olwen
Nutrition Education Coordinator

Phone: 859-985-3195
Mail: CPO 2122, 101 Chestnut St. Berea, KY 40404
Physical: 210 Center St. Berea, KY 40403

Set 25, 2023, 5:30 pm

print this page and discover if this information is still current:

Set 26, 2023, 8:24 pm

Madison County Extension Service

Do they have local statistics about households that preserve their own foods?

Set 26, 2023, 8:30 pm

Tuesday, Sept. 27

The first hour was devoted to corn. We had several readings assigned and we got in small groups to answer a few quiz questions concerning the vast number of ways the corn plant was used on the homestead. Dozens of uses.
Also discussed how heritage corns differ from the vast amounts of commercially grown corn.

Second hour we made individual progress on a couple of assignments while Prof. Hall met with each of us to review our major project.

Editado: Set 28, 2023, 6:11 am

Killing Waters and Killing Waters II

The Great West Virginia Flood of 1985

Pulled these out to recall just how devastating this flood was to many many families and businesses. Those who didn’t lose their homes, lost livelihoods, multitudes of farm animals, the stacked firewood for the winter season (the flood was early November), racks and shelves of canned goods that represented food for the entire year.

I saw the same in the Eastern Kentucky flood last year.

Photo by John Warner, Hendricks, WV

Set 28, 2023, 10:56 am

Thursday Sept. 28

We talked about Bill Best’s books on heirloom bean seeds. (He does tomatoes as well.). He’s a local legend and treasure.
We discussed common name words describing varieties.

We’re supposed to be working on Moodle assignments, but my laptop decided to randomly cycle through an update. It’s at 11% after 10 minutes and promises it will restart a few times. Nothing I can do about it. I’m lucky we aren’t supposed to be taking a test, I suppose.

Editado: Set 28, 2023, 2:05 pm

More of Sept 28

We watched a newish film ‘Clear Day Thunder: Rescuing the American Chestnut’

The title refers to the sound remarked on whenever an ancient chestnut fell after standing dead for years.
Some people who appear:
Harold Mann - forester
Chuck Leavell
Barbara Kingsolver
Dolly Parton
Jimmy Carter
Michael Twitty
Brad Stanback
Rex Mann (KY enthusiast) forester?

Meadow view Research Farm in Virginia
Chestnut Return Farm in Seneca, SC

Bread Tree beer, made from chestnuts

Lots of interviews with Eastern Cherokee members involved with growing and food and celebration of the chestnut.

“The only tree with a fan club”

Tomorrow, our lab outing will be to see the efforts by the Berea Forestry team.

Set 28, 2023, 2:15 pm

Sept. 28 once more

Prof. Hall invited us to a history department “Bite of History.” Dr. John Meyer Crum, new faculty member, gave a talk on indigenous peoples and maize.
Feeding Native Sovereignty

He covered a lot of what we’ve been learning in class and added more lore and politics.

The food was delicious.
Chipotle chicken salad tostada
Roasted corn & black bean salsa phyllo
Mini roasted veggie tamale
Audible sigh when I tasted the warm blueberry crisp!

Set 28, 2023, 8:56 pm

Two American chestnut trees recently identified in Philadelphia park

Editado: Set 30, 2023, 10:44 am

Friday, Sept. 29

We met assistant forester, Phil Vogel. On the grounds of the visitor center, they’ve planted a dozen 7/8th American chestnuts this spring. Just a few survived the summer. Of two older saplings, both having already lost their leaves, one appears to have healthy buds.

Then we drove out to Burnt Ridge and hiked a couple of miles to where they’ve found a few chestnuts growing on their own. They were discovered in 2012 and the largest tree has since succumbed to blight. They’re worried that the next largest may be showing signs as well, with small bark fissures. They are trying to learn how to manage the site to encourage growth at the right pace and also encourage flowering. It did flower this spring, but no fruit. There are several smaller specimens nearby.

Midstory harvest/removal of mostly yellow poplar.
Controlled burn.

Silas Mason established the first Mountain Day celebration in 1895. (I will try to notice when it is next and attend.)
The college manages the forest with four goals:
Water (reservoirs for city water)
Education? I didn’t hear what he said

Other projects:
Short leaf pine re-establishment
Oak sustainability

We saw a few pines that have been planted. No problem with the oaks. We were tromping on tons of acorns. Big ones. Chestnut oaks, in fact.

Discussion of breeding projects, crosses with Chinese chestnut and crossing back with American chestnut. Genetic manipulation - “Darling 58”

There is a famous tree in Adair County that has proven resistance and it is being used in breeding programs.

They hope to get more seed!

The hike was challenging for me over rough ground and, as I said, lots of acorns. I had to slow down to make sure I didn’t twist an ankle or worse. My eyesight also challenges me when walking swiftly and watching where my feet go.

I did find jewelweed and passed it around for those who walked through poison ivy. I promised Kaylee some ointment for her rash.

Had a nice conversation with Ivory and will lend her a couple of books for a weekend assignment.

Got home pretty exhausted, but I’m up early and ready to go again.

I saw how sick old and wretched Dianne Feinstein looked at 90. I can’t imagine that for myself in 20 years. But who knows?

Mountain Day is October 18th.

Out 1, 2023, 6:42 pm

Crown shyness?
Mostly in trees of the same species
Limits disease transmission?

Editado: Out 3, 2023, 8:16 pm

Tuesday, Oct. 3

Started with a quiz on the reading assignment materials - medicinal preparations - gathering, preserving, kinds of preparations, recipes.

We watched parts of a couple of PBS style films that featured medicinal herbs.

Plants and the Cherokee (2001)
Dogwood leaves used to treat poison ivy? First I’d heard of that.
Souchan - yellow flowers
Green headed coneflower - deep cut leaves, emerge early
Yellow Root - woody shrub, grows along waterways, stems bright yellow (de-barked) used for dye. Stomach complaints, urinary problems.
River cane - slender bamboo-like. Flowers in spring and then plant browns.
Tulip poplar
Sassafras - dried powdered leaves used to thicken soups
Basswood - American linden - tea from the flowers calms the nerves.
Joe Pyle Weed - gravel-root, roots dried to help pass kidney stones.
Boneset - high fevers
Horsenettle - root woven into a necklace for infants to treat colic. (not edible)
Ground cherry - white papery husk around edible fruit.
Highbush blueberry - leaf tea to help modulate blood sugar.

I brought jewelweed salve for Kaylee’s poison ivy and an embroidered silk long coat (black) for Iris. Iris is a dashing dresser, and this dramatic black garment fit them to a T.

Afterwards, stopped at the college farm store for lunch. Roasted ginger carrot soup!!! A slab of chocolate strawberry cake. The chocolate cake was precisely dark and nearly bitter; the strawberries were juicy and tasty. The icing was a bit over the top perhaps.

Editado: Out 5, 2023, 5:18 am

Phone interview with Jeanie Hogg, founder and board chair of the local Room in the Inn.

Also first interview with Cheyenne Olsen at Berea Urban Farm. Her husband, Richard, is not available till later in the month.
They have been active for several decades trying to make the community more food secure. Edible streets and annual raised garden blitz.
Her neighbor, Andrea Woodward, works at the college and completed at least one food security survey in the last decade. See if I can get a copy.

BUF mission statement:
To increase food security and community health through Urban Agriculture.

Note related 2020 article on food pantry users.

Out 5, 2023, 6:11 am

Out 5, 2023, 12:52 pm

Thursday October 5

We watched parts of two old films. Nature’s Way by Appalshop, 1973
Tommie Bass by Folkstreams, 1993.

In addition to being impossible to hear and understand, the people in the backgrounds made me cringe.

One segment, the old lady was processing an ointment on the wood cook stove. Her mutton tallow and lard, with herbs and roots, boiled over and they had a lively fire going on. Then a close up of her sweating brow.

Then we went out in teams to collect black walnuts from on campus. We will process them next week.

Iris wore the jacket today. Stunning! They gave me a hug.
I brought a few more items of clothing and they shared them out with two friends.

Tomorrow we are going into the marshes after cattails, so I will try to offload at least one pair of boots. And some socks.

Out 6, 2023, 3:47 am

English ivy has saponins. Extract for laundry detergent

Out 6, 2023, 9:32 pm

Friday, October 6

We went out to one of the reservoirs owned by the college. It’s closed to the public, so this was a rare treat.
We collected cattail rhizomes.
We collected rose hips.
We collected goldenrod blooms.

Back at school, we cleaned and processed the cattail root, soaking in water to extract the starch.
We hammered the black walnuts and put the hulls in a dryer.

Some of my classmates are beginning to treat me like a regular person, even teasing.

Oh, and I learned the detail to differentiate multiflora rose from natives. I just figured it was all multiflora; grows like mad.

Editado: Out 13, 2023, 1:19 pm

Tuesday was a study day for midterms. No class. Good thing, we were moving cabin contents that day.

Thursday, October 12


Watched a History Channel episode of Appalachian Outlaws: Root Awakening (season 2, episode 1)

It was reality TV at its worst. Deliberate drama, nay, melodrama.
It told stories of poachers, landowners protecting their patch, and a WV dealer making a millions dollar bargain with a Chinatown rep in NYC.

I had mentioned that ginseng is often bought and sold by scrap metal dealers in WV, and sure enough, that’s the way it was portrayed.

Then we talked about other clandestine products of the woods. Layne mentioned black bear spleen. I called him out on that one. How in tarnation did he know that odd fact?

Prof. Hall brought in fried flatbread made from last week’s cattail rhizomes. And a pan of greasy beans to go along with that. The flatbread was unimpressive, but the beans were tasty!

Ginseng season begins September 1.

We are going to a farm Friday that cultivates ginseng.

Midterm assignment was due Thursday at midnight. I made sure I could submit it late and not be locked out. It’s an elaboration on our final project. She does an excellent service to her students, making them plan and complete benchmarks.

Editado: Out 13, 2023, 1:44 pm

Also Thursday, interviewed Rebecca at UP of Madison County. It’s a new group attempting to provide additional support services for the homeless.
They are offering self-serve foods to drop-in customers so as to not run afoul of Health Department meal prep regulations. They are lining up church groups and others to make and bring meals from offsite.
The microwave I brought them is much appreciated.

She knows the lay of the land and was able to point me to:

Kathy Smith Hume runs the Monday evening meal at Jade Enterprise parking lot. His Heart Outreach on FaceBook. They serve 150 meals a week. No registration requirement.

Tony Crachiolo runs Berea Food Bank behind the city building. (I still haven’t identified the building)

Berea Kids Eat
Grow Appalachian

God’s Outreach Pantry in Richmond
They fill backpacks with food for kids to take home for the weekends

Ignite South tech school - huh, I had no idea!
They have a commercial kitchen and a culinary teacher - Awndrea Newman, who has provided bulk meals too, ingredients provided by the food bank.

St. Clare Catholic Church also has a commercial kitchen and provides meals regularly for a couple of programs.

So, think collectively. Churches, schools as well as businesses in case of disasters.

Editado: Out 13, 2023, 8:59 pm

Too whupped to write my notes. Took an iron pill and two aspirin and faded for a few hours. Check back tomorrow.

Editado: Out 14, 2023, 9:24 am

Friday, October 13

We went out to Sylvatica Forest Farm

I did not catch the proprietor’s name - Joanna? She’s from Portugal.

Terry Black, from northern KY, was there with a bucket of ginseng roots to plant in her woods.
She had identified a spot where a few plants already exist, so our task was to build the colony. She had cut some trees and created curbs along the elevation to catch soil, leaf debris and water. We planted just above the curb.

Companion plants that indicate a welcoming site : spicebush, wild yam, ….
(my brain is still foggy)

Terry showed how to plant mother specimens which are difficult to find or harvest, but will produce seeds for a long time. Hide under a spicebush, plant very close to a tree that will expand and protect from being dug.

Seeds typically require two years for germination, even with scarification. They need a certain number of cold days.

Terry discussed cultivation in various states. A Kentucky growers conference is planned for next year.
Growers in various states regularly trade stock to help with vigor and with changing climate.

He had a bucket of seed from cultivated crop and a mechanical planter. They intend to plant those seed as well, in the woods, but not near the wild patches.

The land was steep and the path a bit treacherous, especially on the return trip. I found myself as exhausted as I’ve ever been. Prof. Hall drove the van to drop me off right next to my vehicle.
I had promised to help my neighbor move some cement board afterward, but I just handed her the tool and went directly to bed. I’m mostly recovered this morning, just a bit sore and feeling languid.

?Recent book Growing Green Gold

Another author Jim McGraw
Wild American Ginseng

Out 14, 2023, 8:32 pm

Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread.

I just found out that the tree that's been dropping fruit on the woods side of my yard is a black walnut. The fruit smells like citrus, so I never would have guessed it was a walnut tree!

I'll stop chucking the fruit back into the woods...

Editado: Out 19, 2023, 9:59 am

Wednesday October 18

Stopped in at the city building to ask about disaster preparedness. Spoke to the city clerk, Robin. The city admin is out of town this week.
Robin recalls the ice storm and Covid shutdown and says there have been resolutions to clarify who is responsible for what.
The police have an internal flip-book for procedures.
The police have delivered meals and picked up prescriptions for the sick and elderly, but nothing more formal than that.
City relies on county. State, and FEMA.

Admin contact
859 986-8528 x2102

The food bank behind the city building merely rents space. No other connection.
Their phone is 859 985-1903

Editado: Out 19, 2023, 11:07 am

Wednesday October 18
Seed Saver seminar part 2 at the college gardens

Laurie White, the organizer
Emily, horticulture manager

Seed to Seed is the old reference textbook
The Seed Garden is new and great photos

Look at seed packages
F1 is hybrid
OP open pollinated, should breed true.

Out 20, 2023, 8:23 pm

Thursday, October 19

I missed Tuesday‘s class. It was on tobacco. Sorry I missed it; I actually have some history I could have shared.
Prof. Hall saved some ginseng seeds for me and I have a handful now to find places to plant.

This class covered cannibis and hemp. Too tired to find my notes. Will add more later.

Editado: Out 21, 2023, 10:26 am

Friday, October 20

We went mushroom hunting. Nah. We visited a grower/gatherer. Notes tomorrow. These trips tucker me out. Cozying with hot chocolate with a shot of Irish cream.

I drive to campus and can park in two visitor lots. Yesterday I went to the library on the west side of campus. Class is on the northeast side. Thinking my library visit would be brief, I parked off campus even further west. Things didn’t go as planned. Though the help desk student indicated they had 4 copies of the article I need, two people could not locate any of them.
When I glanced at the time, I had 10 minutes to get across campus. Since Friday labs are off campus, I couldn’t show up late; the van would have gone. So I dashed across campus on foot and just made it.
We went to Forest Retreats:

Tim is the mushroom expert in the region. We were blessed to have his time and expertise. He demonstrated how to inoculate logs, discussed varieties and went into great detail about growing domestics and gathering wilds. He supplies restaurants from here to Frankfort and also brokers organic produce for other growers to those same buyers.
Busy man!

I will transcribe mushroom notes in another post. They are in shorthand.

We got a tour of various parts of their farm, including their Dexter milk cow and calf. About 800lbs of sweetness. Instead of mowing, he leads her around the grounds.

Their gardens are in the only meadow with adequate sun. Amazingly, it sits on a slope below a half acre pond. The pond was engineered before they bought the property and could gravity feed water to all of their buildings, if needed.
They have half a dozen chickens who stop laying eggs at this season. So they buy a couple of spring pullets that will lay through the winter.

I noticed a trifoliate orange tree struggling to grow near his workshop. He had mentioned a colleague named Timmy who specializes in mushroom tinctures. I asked him if the tree came from Timmy. Yes. Well, that’s where mine came from as well. Sisters!

Prof. Hall gave me a ride to my car after class. These outings are very good for me, but i do feel the limits of this body nowadays.

Editado: Out 24, 2023, 5:11 pm

Mushroom notes

Editado: Out 24, 2023, 5:23 pm

We had fried mushrooms in class today. Shiitake and Maitake didn’t impress me. Same icky mouth feel I recall from childhood. Chicken of the wood though, was superb. Just as I recall it from Terra Alta feasts. Corn smut was interesting, with a mild but pleasant earthy taste. I am neutral about Lion’s Mane. I would try it at an upscale restaurant to see what the fuss is.

Otherwise, we watched a few old films about moonshiners. The audio was terrible and I got little from them.

We researched prep methods for acorns, which we will prepare Thursday and Friday.

I brought more clothes in and let people take them home.

Back to the library to track down Woodward’s article. Was helped by a student using a stick in his mouth to operate his laptop. Profoundly physically handicapped but fully capable. An amazing memory and eye for detail. He went right to the book in question. Sadly, it did not have the correct article.
Sent an email to the professor asking if she has it in pdf.
ILL librarian

Out 30, 2023, 7:17 pm

Reserved for Thursday October 26 notes

Out 30, 2023, 7:20 pm

During the later part of the pandemic, Kentucky provided a food credit for students who missed school for Covid related reasons. This was to help with replacing school breakfasts and lunches missed those days. It continues this school year.

Nov 12, 2023, 4:26 am

Nice hint on cracking nuts like acorns and hazelnuts

Nov 16, 2023, 5:41 pm

I’ve slacked off on reporting here, and as one of my classmates remarked today, I’ve missed the two last labs. That was sweet of her to notice.
I’m kicking myself for last Friday. We got a peek into the fiber arts department, most particularly concerning natural dyes.
But I had a houseful of family.
This past Tuesday, we watched an old AppalShop film about a chair maker. I didn’t pay much attention.

Today we watched a couple of short films about the history of logging. One from the 90s was focused on the fight against clear cutting in North Carolina. At the time, the Forestry Service worked in the interests of the lumber companies.

A student, Senna, presented about her last summer internship. She learned timbering in Virginia using Suffolk Punch horses.

After, I went to another Bite of History lunch. The theme was West Virginia hotdogs as a folkways study. The woman has even written a book on common folk items like this - Making Our Future: Visionary Folklore and Everyday Culture in Appalachia. It was entertaining. And while the chili sauce was too runny, the slaw was perfect; fine cut and sweet.

I registered for next term’s class. This is being taught by the college art museum curator. History of Photography. I’ve got a shelf of books on the topic - both historical and art focused. But I’ve never studied them in any fashion.

Nov 16, 2023, 6:17 pm

>66 2wonderY: you just reminded me, we went to a farming fair in Halifax, NC a few years ago. They had period costume, implements, even livestock from 200 years ago. We watched demonstrations with little draft horses, that may have been Suffolk Punch.

Nov 17, 2023, 7:46 am

>67 fuzzi: I found the horseman in Virginia where she interned:

Editado: Nov 17, 2023, 8:52 am

>69 2wonderY: that was delightful, but those are not the horse breed I saw. They all had flaxen manes and tails. Now I have to research.

ETA: Haflinger is the breed we saw.

Nov 17, 2023, 10:23 am

>70 fuzzi: Beautiful! And desirable!

Editado: Nov 17, 2023, 5:58 pm

So I met a Suffolk Punch. Willow is a 12 yo mare, and is owned by the college. The logging with horses is a new enterprise managed by the college forester. The college has 1,700 acres of woodlands. Grand and new barn to house the small herd. I will dump my detailed notes later.
Because rain was expected, we didn’t see a demonstration. Instead, Dr. Hall recruited us to peel and cut a quantity of apples for the Homecoming breakfast tomorrow. We made quick work of it. Laine asked me a question out of the blue - what kind of music do I listen to? He says it tells a lot about a person. My response was Folk music, and I listed a couple of artists he didn’t recognize. We established that no, it’s not bluegrass. I wonder what that told him about me.

Editado: Nov 18, 2023, 4:26 am

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is a deciduous tree native to middle Appalachia and considered an invasive pest in other parts of the world. It is a legume. Leaves are compound; leaflets are round and blueish-green.

It is a very hard wood and resists rot superior to most other woods, even in contact with the ground. Consequently, the wood is excellent for use as fence posts. There are instances where locust posts root and grow back into trees.
I’ve been under a house whose floor framing and foundation timbers were black locust. Termites and their surface tunnels wreathed this wood extravagantly but could not penetrate the wood; though they were able to attack the oak flooring successfully.

Nov 17, 2023, 10:55 pm

>73 2wonderY: interesting. Something to remember.

Nov 26, 2023, 9:06 pm

Though he doesn’t get into the species of oaks, he does give some refinements on processing acorns and the practical differences between hot and cold processing. Cold processing keeps the starches intact.

Nov 28, 2023, 12:45 pm

I see I’ve missed a session or two. I think I stopped in last Tuesday just to get clarification on an assignment; as I was in the last stage of cabin clean out. And the rest of last week was Thanksgiving break.
The assignment was due today. We each had to present one plant we hadn’t covered yet because they are primarily spring season plants. Of course they have to be useful to humans. Other than in an ornamental fashion.
I went back to my LT garden journal and early spring mentions of peas and asparagus; which I thought other students might grab. So the next mention was hellebores. Wikipedia tells that they were once used to poison the water supply of a city under siege. Hey, that’s a human use.

So I scrambled a PowerPoint together last evening. And I brought pressed herbarium specimens that I picked and processed this past spring.

The other thing we did today was develop a menu for Friday’s meal celebration. We’ve invited the new president of the college as well as all the people we visited for labs this term. Thursday is ingredients shopping day. I will make a cobbler with the last blackberries in my freezer.
The Ag building kitchen is pretty well equipped for feasting. But I volunteered to bring ceramic mugs for the mulled cider and a stack of cloth napkins.

Nov 29, 2023, 6:58 am

This is very similar to the child’s blouse I gave to Alyssa for her quilt project:

Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 11:15 am

Muffin tins - Chris
Cast iron deep pan - ivory
Butter - Jasmine

Nov 30, 2023, 12:10 pm

Today we finalized our menu, built a spreadsheet, and shopped for the ingredients.
We split up at the entrance, but it was fun bumping into the others as I roamed the aisles.
I’m making blackberry cobbler at home tomorrow morning, but most are cooking right there just before the meal. Several have never cooked what they volunteered to make; so it should be a fun experience.
My note above is what I will bring so we didn’t need to buy the utensils.
Chris has never made corn muffins. He had lots of questions.
Ivory is baking a honey cake in her dorm this evening, so I’m delivering the pan to her at 5.
Jasmine’s grandmother told her to drench the asparagus, so I promised to bring additional butter to relieve her anxiety.
We met up near the whole roast chicken display at checkout, and several bought chicken for tonight’s meal. It sure smelled good in the van on the return trip.

Dez 1, 2023, 6:26 am

Don’t forget to soak the citrus in bicarbonate of soda. Just read about all the fungicides and waxes sprayed on them to increase shelf life.

Dez 1, 2023, 6:35 pm

Today was party day. Everyone pitched in helping to do the prep for each other, set up the tables and chairs and such. I brought cloth napkins and mugs for the mulled cider. The napkins harmonized beautifully with the tablecloths Dr. Hall brought from home.

We bought way too much cider. But it was good. Senna’s dish, a terraine (I know I’m spelling it wrong, but can’t google find it) got a very late start. So we plan to enjoy it in class Tuesday. I left the rest of the blackberry cobbler there too. Besides, I have another one at home.
We made one oversized table so we could all sit together. I happened to sit next to the new college president. She is charming. She was fully engaged with students and guests. And she stayed till the very last, washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Color me impressed.

Editado: Dez 5, 2023, 12:18 pm

Tuesday December 5

Guest demonstrator, Lauren Kallmeyer, helped us make two versions of Elderberry Syrup. She brought dried berries, the package said an Eastern European country, but I forget which - Hungary?
She had soaked them overnight in water and added a touch of grain alcohol and dried ginger. We warmed the decanted juice and added an equal volume of honey. We each got a 2oz. bottle.
We processed the elderberries we had harvested in Sept/Oct which had been frozen. Same recipe minus the alcohol. We got a 2oz. bottle of that as well.
Interestingly, the pants I wore exactly matched the color of the juice on my hand.

We ate Senna’s potato and kale casserole (Terrine!) and finished my cobbler and Iris’ pumpkin pie.

A good time was had by all.
Senna promised me the recipe.

Editado: Dez 7, 2023, 2:10 pm

Class was just a session for last minute review of projects, so I skipped it but attended the last Bite of History lunch.

The food theme was Greek, with tabbouleh, wraps, Greek salad, Mediterranean dip, pastries. Sadly, it all seemed pretty tasteless.
Two history students presented their research. The first was on museums and how they narrate history. The second was a comparison of the cultural narratives in Azerbaijan since the Soviet invasion of 1920 and after the Soviet Union break up in 1991. The student is from Azerbaijan and I asked him what shocked him the most when he first came to the US. He listed several things - lack of public transportation, our interstate system, and self-flushing toilets.

Oh, and I stopped by the security office to pick up my new ID. Though my card clearly says Student, the young man directed me to the staff and faculty side of the table. I chided him on his ageism assumptions.

Editado: Dez 9, 2023, 8:55 am

Oops. Wrong thread.

Dez 13, 2023, 3:42 pm

Finals Day. Everyone made their presentations and showed their projects. A lot of excellence. There were snacks; some items were foodstuffs processed by a student.

A couple of them stopped me on my way out and said what a pleasure and hoped to see me in other classes.
Laine is graduating. I thanked him particularly for treating me as a whole real person.
Kaylee asked about my research on food security and wants to get involved in some community action.

Dez 13, 2023, 6:51 pm

>88 2wonderY: very nice.