Pulling weeds at Parr Field

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Today we assembled a work team to complete much needed weeding at Parr Field.  In the morning we received a visit from the interns at the TCEDC garden who are being mentored under Shirley Trujillo.  We visited Sol Feliz Farm, the Mondragon Field, and the Grow Dome at Chrysalis before making our way to Parr Field.  The weeds have really grown since our last weeding, in many cases towering over our crops!  We pulled the weeds by hand.  In some cases the work was made easier by moist soil, in other cases the weeds were so big with extensive roots that it was hard to grip the weed with wet hands and release them from the soil.  A solution came from Shirley Trujillo and her students who were using a putty knife to sever the root underground while pulling it.

The hardest part of pulling these weeds and casting them aside was knowing that these “weeds” are lambsquarters, locally known as “Quelite de Burro,” and are actually a food source on par with spinach.  The mission at hand was to clear the field of weeds to allow our crops to grow better, but if we the capacity to make use of this resource we could have provided tens if not hundreds of pounds of spinach (either dried or blanched) for the school district students.

The capacity required to make use of this resource would have been to have some people to focus on working the plants after they are pulled from the soil.  Working the plants means plucking the leaves off of the stems and placing them in a bucket or basket.  The leaves would then have to be washed and spread out on a surface to dry or else blanched and frozen.  All of these activities would require planning at the front end: to acquire more labor, to have the supplies needed, and the infrastructure for food storage after the job is completed.

The question is then:  how much do we need to adequately feed the student body?  Are there any legal hoops to jump through to allow these “weeds” to be served to our students?

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About Miguel

Miguel Santistevan is a researcher, educator, and advocate for traditional agriculture crops and systems.
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