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I'm planting a sustainable farm with NO irrigation, fertilizer, tilling or pesticides because the sumac "crops" are native to the land.
I'm planting a sustainable farm with NO irrigation, fertilizer, tilling or pesticides because the sumac "crops" are native to the land.
283 backers pledged $35,110 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

The Wild Farm: Producing Local Sumac Spices project video thumbnail
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$35,110

283

We met our goal! Thank you to all for your incredible goodwill and support. 

Join us and continue to follow our updates as we plant the farm and work with the community!

THE PROJECT:

The challenge of food and land use: the number of plant species used for food and other purposes has decreased from 100,000 to about 30. (UN Food and Agriculture Organization)

Agriculture takes up 1/3 of the land on earth and 38% of that arable land has become degraded.   "Land is a finite resource, we need to become more efficient in the ways we produce, supply and consume." (UN report 2014)

How do we better use scarce arable land against growing demand? How do we restore fragile ecosystems destroyed by farming? How do we broaden our sources of healthy food? 

The wild farm is one step towards healthy and sustainable agriculture.

This spring I plan to plant 500+ wild sumac trees on about an acre of unusable farmland preserved and owned by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation

What makes it wild?

Changing the way we think about a "crop": The crop on a wild farm is an indigenous species that grows without much human tampering. Instead of trying to force nature to make way for the crops we want to plant where we decide to plant them, we could instead work with what would naturally grow on that site and make nature's own crops delicious.  Wild plants typically thrive in "poor" soils that have not been amended or graded. Native plants, such as sumac, have a greater connection with pollinators and ecology than nonnative transplants.

Reducing human inputs: The wild farm crop will exist not only as part of a natural landscape that supports the health of the soil, water, air, pollinators and larger community but also actively restores it, without the need for irrigation, fertilizer, tillage or pesticides. The site is situated between two wooded parcels and thus will create a greenway corridor for nature where now there is only lawn and hayfield. Native plants, such as sumac, have a greater connection with pollinators, wildlife and ecology of the landscape than transplants.

This is what I envision for sustainable agriculture of our future.

Revaluing "forgotten" foods: Many wild plants have a rich history of culinary use. The farm will begin by producing sumac spices from the fruit of our native sumac trees, propagated by the American Native Nursery from wild sourced seed and native seedling sumac trees.

WHY SUMAC? Sumac is popular now. But the fruit clusters have also been enjoyed by Native Americans to make refreshing drinks. Sumac, as a spice, is prized around the world for its fresh lemony flavor and also as the primary ingredient in za'atar, a great Middle Eastern spice. Sumac fruit and seed are incredibly high in antioxidants, Vitamins A and C. 

Although the sumac in the grocery store is imported, staghorn sumac grows wild in North America. Local sumac that I forage today from my own property is in high demand by chefs and the public, because it is superior in freshness,  color, and flavor brightness. Sumac spice is also highly versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes or incorporated in za'atar spice to add flavor on top eggs, potatoes, meat, fish and pasta. 

What funds will be used for:  I have leased under 2 acres of farmland preserved and owned by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation who received state approval to plant crop trees there. Funds will be used to:

(1) purchase and plant 500+ local sumac trees ranging in size from seed to 3 feet. (If we receive more than our goal we will expand the plantings and area.)

(2) deer fence installation. White-tailed deer are a severe threat to tree saplings and are particularly fond of the emerging leaves of young sumac trees. Due to human changes to the landscape, the white tailed deer population have exploded to problematic numbers in New Jersey as well as many parts of North America.

(3) study and development of research protocols, methodology and baseline of results 

(4)  purchase a custom designed  3x5 foot commercial scale sumac processor (specifications already determined) with the capability of processing over 10 pounds an hour of sumac into spice

I envision a world that reintegrates wildness and conservation practices into farming and ranching our food. Lets build a wild farm to bring a new paradigm to sustainable agriculture and revalue our forgotten indigenous foods.

REWARDS:

The booklet "Meadows on the Menu," co-authored by NJ Audubon, inspiring you to convert part of your lawn into a beautiful natural area.

Signed and inscribed copy of our Foraged Flavor cookbook and field guide, nominated for a 2013 James Beard award. Additional insert of some of our favorite sumac recipes from around the world.

Za'atar spice: the last stash of our own 2013 blend with foraged wild sumac, organic sesame seeds and thyme.

za'atar spice with wild sumac, sesame, thyme
za'atar spice with wild sumac, sesame, thyme
bag
bag
tshirt
tshirt
canvas lunch bag
canvas lunch bag
          

Risks and challenges

Fruit production and growth can vary and not many studies have been done on sumac. In 2014, Meadowsandmore will commercially produce foraged sumac using the grinder as we await the farm to begin producing fruit.

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FAQ

  • The carbon steel grinder (approx 5 ft x 3 ft) is industrial grade and able to accomodate up to 50 pounds per hour of material. We have obtained a quote from the manufacturer based on custom design by engineers based on actual testing of our sumac samples, to determine specific moisture content, material bulkiness as well as optimum finished particle size and fineness. The machine uses minimal applications without crushing, heat or irradiation, in order to best preserve aroma and taste.
    The sumac will be inserted through a chute, be ground and then pass through a fine screen of 0.020

    In the future the grinder will also be able to be used for multiple applications, using other edible plant material with different screens and other adjustments.

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  • Its easy. Just pledge the amount for more than one reward. Select one but send us a note that you also want xyz. Kickstarter helps us track this and we will send you both. Also, if you are hankering after something that is not listed LET US KNOW!! We will make every effort to get it to you.....

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    You dont want any reward except a Thank you from Mother Nature. Pledge any amount over $1.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Receive your own digital copy of the colorful booklet "Meadows on the Menu" inspiring you to convert part of your lawn into a beautiful natural area (co-authored by NJ Audubon).

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    The last of our stash of our popular print copy of the colorful spiral bound booklet "Meadows on the Menu" inspiring you to convert part of your lawn into a beautiful natural area (co-authored by NJ Audubon).

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Plant your own wild foraged sumac seeds and let us know how they do. You will receive a seed packet of staghorn sumac foraged by us last September, with planting and care recommendations from American Native Nursery.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Signed and inscribed copy of our Foraged Flavor cookbook and field guide, nominated for a 2013 James Beard award. Additional insert of some of our favorite sumac recipes from around the world.

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    Reward no longer available 50 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    GROW WILD sumac logo Ecobags recycled cotton Canvas Satchel, designed and produced for us by Brooklyn based Black Sheep Heap. 16"W x 15.5" H. Useful for carrying sumac clusters and other gear.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    GROW WILD sumac logo Ecobags recycled cotton Canvas Lunch Bag, designed and produced for us by Brooklyn based Black Sheep Heap. 7"W x 10.5" H x 4.5 " Flat Gusset

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    GROW WILD logo Grass green color cotton T-shirt (specify M or W; S, M, or L) designed and produced for us by Brooklyn based Black Sheep Heap. Spread the word.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Za'atar spice: the last stash of our own 2013 blend with foraged wild sumac, organic sesame seeds and thyme. Get hooked on the flavor: we use it instead of salt and pepper on chicken, tofu, avocado, eggs, yogurt, bread....even oatmeal. 2 oz glass jar, signed copy of Foraged Flavor with za'atar recipes included.

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    If just 12 people a day pledges just $85 we will meet our goal by March 14! In return you get one free "what's my weed" or other foraging lesson via Skype and a jar of our z'aatar spice: a blend of wild sumac, sesame and thyme (if za'atar supplies run out, we will deliver by the end of fall season 2014)

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Love a sumac tree! Adopt one (or contact us if you want to adopt and pledge more) and we will put a tag with your name on it, send you a digital photo and let you know how it does through the growing season. Support native plant nurseries.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    We'll send you a copy of the Foraged Flavor cookbook, you select a recipe and we will send you the foraged and other ingredients in the quantities needed to make the dish. (Note: does not include meat, eggs, butter, cream etc. Please give us 30 days minimum advance notice and subject to seasonal availability.)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Pick a recipe from the Foraged Flavor cookbook and Tama will forage and cook it for you! (If you don't have a preference, she will select one based on what is in season such as sumac puff pastry with almond and apples or chicken rolled in za'atar with wild sumac) Travel and lodging expenses extra. Date must be mutually agreed and expires at end of 2014.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Tama will guide you through a Foragers Feast at your pick of a number of starred NYC restaurants, including Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, ACME, Il Buco Alimentari, Marc Forgione, or Khe-Yo. Enjoy a delicious dinner for you and 2 more that includes an off the menu foraged dish and a visit to the kitchen. (alcohol not included. date to be mutually agreed. locations outside of NY can be arranged but travel/board extra)

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    Pledge $8,000 or more About $8,000

    Enjoy a day AT YOUR PLACE finding nature's delicacies and then relaxing over a sampling of drinks and tapas' style tastings showcasing foraged ingredients. Tama will design and give an educational workshop on wild plants and ecology, tips for field ID, and assess your site's natural landscape potential. She will produce a written wild plant inventory report and Floristic Quality Assessment on the plants that grow wild on your property and their potential for deliciousness. The day will end with a tasting of sumac and other seasonal foraged flavors in canapes and drinks. All ingredients included. (Travel/board/venue/dishes/supply costs are extra. Maximum 16 persons. Date to be agreed in 2014)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Spend a day with Tama in New Jersey at her property, some of her favorite neighboring foraging spots and visit the wild farm. End the day with a demo of cooking with foraged ingredients and relax over a sampling of drinks and gourmet canapes showcasing seasonal foraged ingredients. Maximum 20 persons. Date to be agreed (Tip: in late August the meadows should be in peak bloom).

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Funding period

- (30 days)