Tag: 100miles100days

Summer, 100 Miles, and Wild Berry Ice Cream!

This past Sunday, Piedmont Picnic Project had a lot to celebrate – and a dedicated group of picnickers braved the heat to come out and help us do it up right!  We held our third Wild History Walking Tour + Picnic of the year – a Wild Berry Ice Cream Social.  See full gallery here.


The first day of summer for us meant the end of our 100 Miles in 100 Days series – we had officially walked 100 miles of Raleigh’s greenways in the 100 days from the first day of spring to the first day of summer, cataloging over 70 edible plants growing along the way!  You can see all of our finds on our instagram account.

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For our location, we chose Dorothea Dix [future] Park in downtown Raleigh.  We thought this spot was ideal for this celebration for a number of reasons…  This was the first spot I ever foraged berries in Raleigh, so it had special meaning to me.  The history of Dorothea Dix the person as well as the place is a rich one, and the place is in transition yet again with its purchase by the City of Raleigh for a park.


It also is a place from where you can connect to several of Raleigh’s greenways…  Continue east to connect to the Walnut Creek Trail all the way to the Neuse River.  Continue west on the Rocky Branch Trail to connect to the Reedy Creek Trail to the NC Museum of Art all the way to Umstead Park.  Continue south to take the Centennial Bikeway Connector to the NC State Farmers Market and on to Lake Johnson.  Continue north connect to the House Creek Trail, Shelley Lake, and beyond all the way to the Raleigh city limits!  How connected we are!


Another thing that made Dorothea Dix ideal for this day and this walk was that the entire Dix campus is rimmed with the perfect foraging environment – the intersection of grassy field with forest – resulting in a tangled mass of wild things brimming with edibles.  The edges of Dorothea Dix campus look like many of the Raleigh greenway edges we have seen in our 100 Miles in 100 Days walks.


For the foraging walk, we focused on berries – mulberries finishing their season, blackberries beginning their season, and berries to come later this summer – muscadines and elderberries.


Surprisingly, the plant that may have out shown all of these berry jewels was the easily-missed sassafras tree!


We put our picnickers to work making their own ice cream for the first course!


But at the end, we laid out a full spread for them – brandy-vanilla ice cream, “sassy snaps” sassafras cookies to make ice cream sandwiches…


and a full wild soda bar for mix-and-match ice cream floats.


We can’t think of a better way for us to have celebrated the first day of summer and the culmination of our 100 Miles in 100 Days journey, and we are grateful to those who chose to spend their Father’s Day with us!

So what will we do now that our 100 Miles in 100 Days challenge is over, and summer has begun?  Stay tuned for our upcoming events, especially coming up in July – the Blackberry Brigade – blackberry picking competition for a cause!


Also, our theme for summer will be “Put it up!” – where we’ll focus on how to put up and preserve the summer’s bounty so that you can continue to taste summer all year long out of your pantry and freezer.

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Weekend Update: May Wild History Walking Tour + Picnic

Piedmont Picnic held their second Wild History walking tour and picnic of the spring this past Saturday!  We had a big bunch of friendly, enthusiastic picnickers and a beautiful day along Lake Raleigh – one of our favorite spots so far along the Raleigh greenways during our 100 Miles in 100 Days series.  See full gallery here.

Along the walk, we learned about wild edibles growing right now in this location – wildflowers, green shoots, and even mulberries!

Talking #mulberries at this past Saturday’s #WildHistory #Foraging Tour + #WildFood #Picnic!

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

The picnic was one of our more decadent affairs – because eating flowers of course lends itself to sweets! Wild weed salad, Trappist honey bread, and yogurt cheese were accompanied by honeysuckle sodas, wildflower jelly thumbprint cookies, and intoxicating wisteria ice cream!  

Oh, and did we mention we spotted our first ripe blackberries of the season!?

A big THANK YOU to all who came out for the picnic and to everyone that helped to promote it beforehand!  We are always grateful for and humbled by the overwhelming response we get to our wild endeavors!

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100 Miles in 100 Days: Looking back at Week 8

We’ve been making our way north along the Neuse River this week for our 100 Miles in 100 Days series… And not a single section has disappointing, yielding new wildlife and new edible plants!

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We’ve looped around Horseshoe Farm, seeing picturesque riverside farm scenes…

And the winner for most picturesque #RaleighGreenway trail goes to…. #horseshoefarmtrail #neuseriver

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Magnolias are in bloom now – smelling and looking lovely.  We hope to infuse them to capture that scent in a magnolia liqueur.  

Magnolia vs. gardenia aroma–who ya got? #teammagnolia #nocontest #100Miles100Days A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Dragonflies are out and about in abundance.  We try to capture each type in a photo.  😉

Hello friend #100Miles100Days

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

We’re always taking note of edibles in all seasons – even when they’re not good to eat, they can still be stunning!  

Wild geraniums look almost alien at this stage! #100Miles100Days A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

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Location announced! Wild History Walking Tour + Picnic

Wild History_MAYPiedmont Picnic is excited to host our second Wild History walk of the spring season!  This walk’s theme will be about pollinators and wildflowers.

We’ll teach you about common edible wildflowers (and more!)…


Give you some local history on bees and honey… 


And follow it all up with a wildflower & honey themed picnic of homemade cheese, bread, wildflower jellies, and more!  You can get TICKETS HERE!


IMG_7945For our location, we’ve chosen the lovely shores of Lake Raleigh on NCSU’s Centennial Campus.  This accessible and scenic spot is buzzing with more than just State students!  Many edible wildflowers, berries, and greens are available along its shores, as well as all different kinds of pollinators!  Because it falls along the the Walnut Creek Trail of the Raleigh Greenways, it’s an ideal fit for our 100 Miles in 100 Days campaign.

IMG_7983See our listing on our Events page for full information on the activities, directions, and parking.  Get TICKETS HERE.

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100 Miles in 100 Days: Looking back at Week 7

The moment we’ve been working toward has arrived!  This week we hit the Neuse River, and now we are working our way north along it as part of our 100 Miles in 100 Days series!

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Let me tell you, after what seemed like miles of being caged in on boardwalks on the end of the Walnut Creek Trail, it was thrilling to reach the shining waters of the Neuse and freedom to roam!

  So far, the Neuse has not disappointed!  Anderson Point Park was a highlight this week.  As the seasons change, it’s amazing how different the same trail can look from week to week…  The gorgeous fragrant clumps of wisteria and black locust are gone now.  Wild roses climb high into the trees.  You usually smell them before you see them, but they won’t be blooming much longer.  Flowers of summer, like honeysuckle and oxeye daisies are here to stay for a while.  

#oxeyedaisy #dewdrops #nofilter #100miles100days #forage #wildfoodlove A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

It won’t be long now until elderflowers, yarrow, and Queen Anne’s lace is in full bloom!

Not long now… Did anyone else used to color these with food coloring as a kid? 😉 #queenanneslace #wildcarrot #childhoodmemories #100miles100days

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

And then, you know what’s next as summer nears… BERRY SEASON!

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100 Miles in 100 Days: Looking back at Week 6

This past week we have been really trying hard to finish up most of Raleigh’s southern greenways…  As of this Friday, we’ll have completed all of the Walnut Creek Trail and hit the Neuse River!  This will be a big midway milestone for our 100 Miles in 100 Days series walking and foraging all 100 miles of Raleigh greenways in the 100 days from spring to summer.  As always, be sure to keep tabs on our instagram account for continuous updates!

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The trails around Lake Johnson took up part of our week – completing the eastern-most portion of the southern greenways.  We made some interesting finds there (even if not edible)!

Red spotted #gall. #wasps #crystalgall #100miles100days A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Walnut Creek Trail from Raleigh Blvd to Worthdale Park on to Walnut Creek Amphitheater and beyond…  The wild roses are in full bloom now, and you often smell their intoxicating smell before you see them.  

Not long now till #elderberry blossoms! #100miles100days #wildfoodlove #forage

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Sometimes it’s the #simplethings. #clover #100miles100days #forage

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Can’t get enough of these #wildroses! #intoxicating smell… #nofilter #foraged #wildfoodlove #100miles100days

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

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This May: Pollinators in the Piedmont

For the month of May, Piedmont Picnic Project will be focusing on pollinators, all they do for us, and what we can do for them!


What can you expect from our Pollinators in the Piedmont series?

Pollinator Picnic | Saturday, May 9th, 2-4 PM | 308 Colleton Rd. (parking on street)

Pollinator Picnic

Come have a picnic provided by the bees while we create a picnic for the bees!  Learn how to install a pollinator garden at a personal residence while enjoying a light picnic of wildflower & honey drinks and treats.

Wild History Pollinator Walk | Saturday, May 23, 2-4 PM | Surprise Location TBA

Join Piedmont Picnic on another Wild History walk where we’ll point out wild edibles along the way while we share the history around our topic and location!  This month’s theme will be… what else?  Pollinators!  So we’ll talk bees, stings, pollinator habitat, honey, and wildflowers…  of course!

Our TBA location will be at a surprise location along part of Raleigh’s greenways, as part of our on-going 100 Miles in 100 Days series, walking and foraging all 100 miles of Raleigh’s greenways in the 100 days of spring!

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Blogging Series

Our blogging will also be following our pollinator theme – looking into all things wildflower, bee, and honey!  Topics will include any and all of the following, and more!

  • Get the buzz on Honeygirl Meadery
  • Queen Bee: A history of women and honey
  • Bee keeping and hive removal
  • Baking and preserving with honey
  • Piedmont Picnic tries their hand at mead
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100 Miles in 100 Days: Looking back at Week 4

Have you been keeping up with our 100 Miles in 100 Days series?  Follow us on instagram for continuous updates.  We’ll be walking, photographing, posting, foraging, and cooking/preserving/fermenting from all 100 miles of Raleigh greenway over the course of the 100 days from the first day of spring to the first day of summer!  We’re about one third of the way there now…  See where we’ve been in the last week below.

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House Creek Trail north from Wade Avenue

#cornflower #bachelorsbutton blooming in the piedmont! #edibleflowers #foraged #100miles100days #nofilter #eattheweeds #wildedibles

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

#woodsorrel starting to pop in the #piedmont! #salad #lemonade #foraged #eattheweeds #wildfoodlove A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

#futureblackberry in bloom in the #piedmont! #100miles100days #raleighgreenways #foraged #wildfoodlove A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

#mayapple #thestruggleisreal #100miles100days #raleighgreenways

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Walnut Creek Trail

Rushing water has the amazing ability to mask traffic sounds no matter how close the road #100miles100days #greenway #whitenoise #citywithinapark

A video posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

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Raleigh Greenways: No shrinking violet

I didn’t need a calendar to tell me spring had arrived in North Carolina…  All I had to do was look out at my yard and the yards of so many others to see them blanketed in pink, purple, white, and yellow flowers!  I love this time of year before people pull out their lawnmowers, while they are still letting their yards turn into little wild places!  And even the smallest wild place can be a place to find some wild food.

Many of these flowers, including our featured plant today – violets – can seem so common that we take them for granted and ignore that they are just as beautiful as many cultivated flowers.  Many of them are also quite edible and useful!

This idea of something so prolific and common that we forget what a treasure it really is reminded us of our 100 Miles in 100 Days campaign.  To us, the 100 miles of Raleigh greenways are something we have often ignored and taken for granted, but as we explore them more and more of late, we see their value as wild places full of wild edibles and full of a rich natural and cultural history.

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 Where does Raleigh greenway history begin?

Speaking of wild places, they don’t all have to be remote locations, left undisturbed for generations to create a perfect, mystical balance of how nature should be. Your lawn, or the vacant lot down the road–or the edges of Raleigh’s greenway trails–all have things growing in them, right? But what a bummer it would be if there weren’t. If everything were paved over. Or plucked bare. Thinking of the Dust Bowl in the Great Depression? Or the Lorax? Pretty bleak.

When Raleigh was growing itself rapidly away from downtown in the 1960s and 1970s, voices began speaking out with concerns over what all the new construction and developments were doing to existing wild and natural spaces. Where were all the trees going? Or the people who loved them? And what about all the damn flooding?

The short version of a longer story is that City Council turned a report from a summer intern titled, “Raleigh: The Park with a City in It” into a reality.

The two main creeks, Walnut and Crabtree, would be protected to help manage the area’s floodplain, the surrounding wetlands would be a habitat for plants and animals, and the pathways would “give alternative to the automobile for short commuter trips” around the city. Ever since Central Park was created in NYC in the 1850s, there have been strong advocates for natural spaces within cities. However, the extent to which the Capital City Greenway is integrated into Raleigh’s business, residential, and other development was so unprecedented that it was considered the first citywide greenway system in the United States when it was begun in 1974.

Each section of the greenway has been added in the years since then, slowly working toward making them fully interconnected. As land is turned over to be cleared, or paved, it creates opportunities for new wild things to grow. Chances are, if you’re in Raleigh, you’re not much more than a few minutes away from a greenway trail at any moment. Which also means, you’re not much more than a few minutes away from discovering some of Raleigh’s coolest natural spots.

Plant Profile: Common Violet

One plant that is so common on the greenways (and probably in your lawn) this time of year is the common blue violet.  Sprinkle a handful of these blooms on any plate, and you will take it straight into gourmet territory.

Description and Habitat.  Violets like to grow in areas that are fairly moist, yet also offer some sun, which makes them bloom more prolifically.  Look for heart-shaped, somewhat glossy leaves about four inches tall and five-petaled purple flowers about one inch across.  Flowers have yellowish-white middles that are slightly furry.  Some violets are white blossomed with faint purple veins in the petals and are just as edible and quite striking!

Harvest.  Blossoms are present in early spring (late March to mid April), and are best harvested in the morning.  Leaves stick around most of the year.  They are best harvested when still very young and rolled up like a scroll.

Flavor and Use.  Common violet flowers (unlike their more fragrant English violet cousins) have a very faint scent – almost undetectable.  Their flavor is green tasting much like a salad green.  Generally, their use is more for their striking purple color which lends itself to garnish dishes or to be infused in syrups and liqueurs.  The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked – but when cooked can have somewhat mucilaginous qualities.


 Violet Syrup

Place violets in a heat safe container such as the mason jar below.

WP_20150401_020Pour boiling water over the flowers – just enough to cover them.  Place a lid/plate over the steeping violets and allow to sit for up to 24 hours for maximum extraction of that beautiful purple color (cat optional).


Drain violets, squeezing as much liquid out of the flowers as possible.  Gorgeous, isn’t it? Measure your liquid.


At this point, you have two color options: pinkish-purple or bluish-black.

For bluish-black, warm your liquid with an equal amount of sugar (i.e., if you have 1 cup liquid, you’ll want 1 cup sugar) over low heat until sugar is fully dissolved.  Do not boil.  Pour into clean jar.   The color will lose some vibrancy but stay more violet.

Alternatively, add a few drops of lemon juice before sealing, and it will regain vibrancy but be a more pink-purple color rather than blue-violet.  This pinkish-purple shade is in the photo below (the other bottle in the background is a ground ivy syrup made in a similar way).


What to do with this gorgeous purple syrup with an oh-so-delicate spring green taste?  Why not a cocktail?  We call it shrinking not for it’s flavor, but because it seems to disappear so quickly!

Shrinking Violet Cocktail

To make, shake the following in a cocktail shaker over ice and strain into a martini glass:

1.5 oz gin

1 oz violet syrup

1 egg white

juice of 1/4 lemon

Garnish with a violet, of course!


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