While there is not a lot that can endure the dogged days of winter, there is one wild edible that can be seen holding tenaciously to the frozen ground, reaching its limbs through cracks in the ice and breaks in the snow, and populating the pathways in our high tunnels. UTC/NF farmer Rachel de Vitry shares her insights on Chickweed, a surprisingly resilient cold hardy vegetable that makes a happy home on our farm:
“Chickweed, so named because it’s commonly eaten by chickens, is a cold-season wild edible growing in abundance at the farm. And we are happy to have it! It’s tasty and nutritious, and, remarkably, will germinate and grow through the winter.
Chickweed is a member the family Caryophyllaceae, also known as the pink or carnation family. Native to Europe, it was introduced to New England in 1672 and is now found on all continents, including Antarctica. Plants are capable of producing up to 15,000 seeds, 5-7 weeks after germination. With four generations possible in one growing season, a single seed can produce over 15 billion seeds.
As for culinary uses, chickweed can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach for 5 minutes, which gives it a taste similar to cooked spinach. When cooked, it can be added to soups and stews or served as a side dish. Chickweed is nutritious and an excellent source of vitamins A, D, B complex, C, and rutin (an accompanying flavonoid), as well as iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica.”
Chickweed will be available at our farmstand at the Rittenhouse Farmer’s Market when we return on Saturday March 28th and should be available through the spring!