The Wild Food + Herb Market is already bringing together a community of wild food enthusiasts.
The first wild food market in the country had its second event on Sunday, April 7, in Carrboro.
Josh Lev, co-director of the Wild Food + Herb Market, said he had a nice plant community when he lived in California, and he saw potential for one when he moved here.
“A lot of people in this area are interested, but they didn’t know each other,” he said. “I wanted to make a place where people could come together.”
The Wild Food + Herb Market is meant to be more than just a market. It is also a place where people in the community with an interest in wild plants can come together to share and learn from one another.
A conservation ethic exists behind the Wild Food + Herb Market. Lev said one way to create a relationship with plants is to interact with them, which could include bringing them water, planting seeds or trimming around them to help them thrive. He said that once someone has that relationship with a plant, he or she is connected to it.
“You value things you’re invested in,” Lev said. “We want to have more of a reciprocal relationship with wild plants.”
This is what Lev, who studied and sometimes teaches herbal medicine, calls reciprocal ecology. Not only do people benefit from the plant, but they give back to the plant as well.
Everything sold at the Wild Food + Herb Market is either grown locally or made locally with plants brought from elsewhere. Everything must have some local connection, Lev said.
Frances O’Halloran, of Herb Planet, said everything she sells is organic, wild-crafted or Certified Naturally Grown (a peer-review alternative to USDA Organic Certification). O’Halloran was selling her products at the market on Saturday with her daughter, Emma.
“It is imperative to me to use organic and clean plants in everything I make,” O’Halloran said. “I’ve been doing this since 1999, and it really feeds my soul. I just love it.”
O’Halloran used to sell to Weaver Street Market, and she said that although she appreciated its support, she likes not having to repeatedly make certain things.
“I just love the creativity that this (market) offers,” O’Halloran said.
“Also, I love crafting,” she added. “And I just blend those two together, and it’s like kitchen magic.”
Kim Calandra, an acupuncturist who studied Chinese medicine, came to the market in March as a customer and was inspired to be a vendor at this month’s market.
“Plants are my passion,” Calandra said.
When she came to the first market, she said she thought it was a great way to bring this passion to the community.
Calandra foraged all the herbs and plants at her table during the past few weeks. She had little bags of salad, herbal tea, and plants, such as dandelions. Dandelions, over tonic, are detoxifying and good for the liver, she said.
Another vendor, Jan Tate, started her company, Three Hawk Farm, after moving to the area. She decided on the name after seeing hawks all over the area.
Tate said she knew she had a passion for plants and gardening, but she wanted to know more about them.
“The best way to learn more about something is to do it,” she said.
At the market, Tate sold culinary herbs in pinch pots. The herbs were grown on her farm in Efland, and she made the pots herself.
There were about 20 vendors at Saturday’s market, and the limit is 25. Lev said the market has been publicized with posters, newspapers and word-of-mouth, and has received more than 600 likes on Facebook.
The market takes place one Sunday afternoon each month, March through November, at the Carrboro Town Commons (the site of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market).
Each month, the Wild Food + Herb Market has a different theme. This month’s focus was Cooking with Wild Foods. Mushroom picker and educator Alan Muskat talked about mushrooms and other wild plants.
Upcoming themes include Herbal Crafts around Mother’s Day, Kids Love Herbs, and Walk on the Wild Side/Botanical Illustration.
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