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Agriculture

Kate Lebo
Summer 2021

A conversation about Difficult Fruit with Kate Lebo

Kate Lebo’s lyrical and literary Book of Difficult Fruit—part memoir, part cookbook, wholly wonderful—published April 6.

The compilation of essays, one for each letter of the alphabet, uses different fruits as key ingredients for recipes and storytelling. Each piece stands on its own. Collectively, though, the entries present an associative work that is altogether delightful, insightful, witty, surprising, and often deeply personal.

Book cover of The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with recipes)

Lebo finished the final draft while … » More …

Greenbank Farm native plant garden path
Summer 2021

Wild berries at Greenbank Farm

Nancy Hindes often finds wild creeping raspberries while walking along the road in front of her home south of Coupeville on Washington’s Whidbey Island.

“It grows along the ground. It’s not a very dominant plant, but I think it really likes gravelly soil, and that’s why it grows right next to the road,” she says, cautioning those unfamiliar with the wild plant to take care. “It will trip you.”

In summer, she keeps an eye out for its bright red fruit. “It’s one of the best raspberries I’ve ever eaten. It’s very sweet and very flavorful. When I see it, I’ll stop and have a … » More …

Summer 2021

More wild berries

Numerous wild berries can be found in summer and fall around Washington state. Here are more varieties to look for.

Read about wild berries in the Pacific Northwest.

Black chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa)—A great natural source of pectin, these tart, dark berries are perfect for processing into jam and jelly.

Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)—These tart reddish purple berries—best in jam, jelly, sauce, and vinegar—are prevalent west of the Cascade Range in damp clearings and thicket margins.

Black huckleberries (Vaccinium membranaceum)—These are among the tastiest and most popular berries in the Pacific Northwest.

Blackcap raspberries (Rubus leucodermis)—Unlike blackberries, these berries have a hollow middle, like … » More …

Summer 2021

The secret life of huckleberries

Matt Carroll studies people’s connections to land, particularly fire risk and human communities throughout the West. But he’s also researched an important Washington state staple: the wild huckleberry.

He’s a professor and associate director of graduate programs in the School of the Environment at Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. While most of his work centers around wildfires, he has also examined the social ecology of the huckleberry in and around the Colville and Panhandle National Forests in northeast Washington and northern Idaho.

Huckleberries have a very deep history in our region,” Carroll says. “Indigenous people … » More …

Blackberry stalk
Summer 2021

Bullying blackberries

The blackberries are not what they seem.

They seem native, growing wild wherever they want, thriving along riverbanks, roads, railroad tracks, and trails; inside state, county, even Seattle city parks.

These abundant berries—great for pie and jam—are synonymous with summer in Washington state, particularly on the west side, where they take over greenbelts and backyards, abandoned lots, urban alleyways, and logged lands.

They grow, as it were, like weeds.

Emphasis on weeds.

Himalayan blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) are not only not native, they’re invasive. And they’re not actually Himalayan.

Call them the state weed of Washington. The plump, juicy, deep purple, and delicious weed of Washington.

» More …