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.
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.