below, the article by Millicent:
There is no such thing as weeds.
The greenery sprouting alongside flowers and trees, twisting beneath concrete and pavements is in fact a free supermarket at your doorstep.
The uses of these historically hated species are boundless, according to Diego Bonetto, a passionate naturalist, who shows inner city residents the possibilities of plant life in 1.5 hour tours around the forgotten alleys and corners of Chippendale.
Last Saturday, locals were encouraged to sample chick weeds (Stellaria Media), abundant during winter and described as tasting similar to spinach.
They look like small white flowers and hold great nutritious value.
“There is also flatweed and African olives which you can eat raw, they’re sweeter than normal olives,” Bonetto said.
“Dandelions can be used in salads and stir fries. You can also chop the root and fry it in butter and garlic. Delicious.”
Bonetto argues that the human mission to eradicate the spontaneous flora known as weeds from the garden is all in the mind.
“There is a psychology to the human war on weeds, which have become an emblematic threat to our species,” said Bonetto.
“This started when we started to define agriculture and crops, the weed came to symbolise our fear of wilderness, of being on the other side of the garden wall.”
While indigenous cultures embraced living off the land, Bonetto sees that an enormous amount of this knowledge has been lost or is currently undervalued.
Other cultures share a spiritual relationship with the land, as Bonetto recalls foraging in at the age of five in his home country of Italy.
“Studies have shown that activities like mushroom picking reflect cultural identity within landscape,” said Bonetto.
“I tend to forage in my own front garden or the gardens I look after. I don’t have to travel very far.”
While stressing the importance of human interaction with the environment, Diego also has simple rules for those eager to explore the urban wilderness.
“Don’t crop anything too close to the main road and go to an environment that you trust has not been polluted.”
“I do a tour whenever people ask me to,” said Bonetto, suggesting the best way for those interested in discovering how to make the best of inner city greenery is to contact Bonetto via his website. “The more people who want to come along, the more tours I will do.”
Visit Diego Benetto’s website at http://www.weedyconnection.com/.
BY MILLICENT CAFFREY
oh, below the TV appearance!