Yesterday morning, I dragged my tired butt over to the Quaker Cemetery in Prospect Park for one of our rare cleanup days. These cemetery cleanups are nice ways for the NYC Quaker community to come together and do something practical together in a beautiful natural setting.
I was one of the first ones there, as it happened. So I got assigned weeding duty with a couple of other Brooklynites, Ava and Owen. Ava as it turns out was the perfect person to weed with, since she writes about edible wild plants on the New York Times blog "Urban Forager."
Our main assignment was to go attack an early infestation of the dreaded garlic mustard weed that is the bane of many gardeners. It was much more pleasant and easy work than previous cemetery cleanups, which involved more raking and fixing up old gravestones.
I learned a lot from Ava about the food possibilities of garlic mustard. The leaves have a sharp, mustardy flavor that makes a nice addition to a salad. And the root has a strong spice to it, which can be cut up and used similar to horseradish. Most other online recipes call for using the leaves as a replacement for basil in pesto sauce.
We joked about taking the large bags of collected weeds and bringing them to the nearby Eastern Parkway green market to sell. After all, they are organic, pesticide free and benefit a good cause. I bet we could make a killing.
Check out more of Ava's interesting experiences foraging for food in New York City's parks and gardens on her blog. And here's another post of Ava's on edible weeds.
(Image: garlic mustard weeds at Quaker cemetery, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from rikomatic's photostream)