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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Wednesday - June 08, 2011

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Groups promoting Edible Grasses
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Is there a group of people who want to study and grow edible grasses? Thanks!

ANSWER:

  Mr Smarty Plants is well aquainted with those folks, I think they are called farmers!  They grow massive amounts of well known grasses such as wheat, barley & rice and feed us all.  The place of study is generally within the horticulture department of our major Universities; here is a link to the Horticulture Department at TAMU.  I also found a link to the Grain Science & Industry Department at KSU.

   Now that I've stopped chuckling, I'm expecting that since you asked Mr Smarty Plants, you are actually concerned about studying and growing Native Grasses

  It seems the people in the UK have a number of societies and groups with missions that are related to this.  There is British Grassland and the Irish Seed-Savers,  The Gloucestershire Root Fruit & Grain Society in Gloucester, England appears to sponsor competitions.   More internationally, there is a group called GRAIN, who claim to be a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. [!!]

  In the US, most of the references I found were to groups that promote native grassses and grasslands, rather than grains.  These include the California Native Grass Association and the Soil and Water Conservation Society.  The SWC society publishes an e-book on Farming with Grass.

  If we move away from the specific reference to grasses, though, It turns out that we have an expert and a group that you can explore much closer to home.   Scooter Cheatham is a Texas author and has participated in The Texas Legacy Project.  His major effort over the past 30 years has been to direct, illustrate, write, edit and lay out the Encyclopedia of the Useful Wild Plants of Texas, a 12-volume, 6000-page work produced by the Useful Wild Plants Project.  If you explore the Useful Wild Plants Project pages, you will see that they include grasses in their subjects, and that they encourage membership, volunteering, and publish a newsletter. 

                   
Glycyrrhiza lepidota
        Zizania texana                            Elymus canadensis 

[A note to the cautious - - Appropriate pictures but not necessarily edible!]

 

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