Around 20 teams of berry pickers went out on Raleigh greenways this past Saturday to see who could pick the most blackberries (using a map of berry hot spots we provided!).
Competitors then brought their berry haul to be weighed in to see who had the most berry poundage!
In the end, competitors weighed in 21 pounds of berries! Teams could choose to keep their berries OR better yet, donate them and package them to be sold to local chefs (see list below), with all proceeds going to the garden at Neighbor to Neighbor Outreach Center in SE Raleigh!
Various berry-themed activities for teams to enjoy also took place at the weigh-in site, including: blackberry-themed refreshments provided by local businesses, cooking and preserving demos by Common Roots Project, and blackberry juice juicy hand prints and photo portraits.
Click here to see the gallery from the event!
Where did the idea for the Blackberry Brigade come from? Our inspiration was twofold. First, while walking our 100 miles of Raleigh greenways in 100 days of spring, we quickly noticed that one edible plant was ubiquitous along Raleigh greenways – blackberries! All of these berries might go to waste if no one was around to pick them come July. What could we do to put them to good use? Second, we were inspired by the artwork of Linda Dallas – particularly her work that was about to be dedicated as a banner at the Art Along Blount Street dedication. Linda’s piece was inspired by the work of Home Demonstration agents working from the early to mid 1900s in Raleigh, and we were inspired by them as well!
Home Demonstrators of Wake County in the Early to Mid 1900s
Jane McKimmon was the first North Carolina State Home Demonstration agent in 1911. Her agents traveled the state and taught homemaking skills to rural women (what McKimmon called “housewifely arts”). Their programs focused on increasing efficiency and standardizing procedures in home food production and selling, efforts that became highlighted during the scarcities of World War I.
Dazelle Foster Lowe taught about emergency preparedness during World War I, and later after some resistance was hired full-time as an agent for Wake County’s African American residents. By 1925, she was the head of Home Demonstration for all of North Carolina’s black citizens, and she served in the field until 1955.
Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delaney worked with the Negro Rural School Fund, educating black children and their families in rural Raleigh with the help of Dr. Booker T. Washington. She taught about Home Demonstration subjects, like sanitation practices and canning techniques. When they were both over 100, Sadie and her sister published Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, an oral history told to Amy Hearth Hill and a New York Times’ bestseller.
The spirit of preserving food to keep it from going to waste spoke to our foraging this spring and our new theme of “Put it up!” this summer.
Piedmont Picnic Project is grateful to our partners: Community Food Lab and Second Saturday for co-hosting the day’s events as part of the City of Raleigh’s Art along Blount Street dedication and in conjunction with the Shaw Summer Sizzles concert series!
HUGE thanks to local restaurants that purchased our locally-foraged berries from us, with all proceeds going to the garden at Neighbor to Neighbor Outreach Center!
And to our partners…
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