New England Acorn Cooperative

A Gathering Place for the Acorn Community

Author: NEACoop (page 1 of 3)

Time for Oak Leaf Tea (Kombucha Style)

A gift of oak leaf kombucha from Adelaide inspired us to take some of our own ongoing (green tea) kombucha  brew into the woods with young red and white oak leaves.

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We experimented with freshly picked washed leaves, fresh leaves that had been blanched (steeped briefly in boiling water), and dried pressed leaves. The best tasting results came from the blanched, and is as pretty as kombucha can be…

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(perhaps a look only a kombucha mother could love)…

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Bloomin’ acorns

Birds song and pollen in the air these days, and many folks wonder “what are these caterpillar-like things all over the ground?”  Some of those are spent oak catkins (other trees  such as birch and willow produce catkins too). Other fun oak facts & folklore.

Oaks are monoecious – a single oak tree produces both male flowers (in the form of “catkins”) hanging down to allow wind to take their pollen to any receptive female flowers  on another branch of the same tree, or any oak flower in the vicinity. Female flowers are harder to spot and appear (where you would expect a bud to be) as a fuzzy three-lobed stigma with an egg shaped ovary beneath. Thanks to Bob Klips for posting this great image of a female oak flower.

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Though oaks  (the flowering plant genus Quercus) include some of America’s most ecologically and economically important trees (approximately 255 “new world” lineage – of an estimates over 600 worldwide) and provide significant ecosystem services (woody plant biomass, biodiversity, ecology and nutrient cycling), the biodiversity of this genus is poorly understood. Andrew Hipp, Senior Scientist at the Morton Arboretum studies the basic question of how oak traits, distributions, and diversity evolve in response to changes in habitat and climate. For more information about his “quercky” work –  see the Morton Arboretum Lab site.

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male oak flowers (catkins)

 

May everyone have an awesome and allergy free spring experience!

Happy Arbor Day & New Moon to all you Nutty Buddies

If you can’t plant a tree, at least go out and hug one – they literally make it possible for us to breathe – among other things.

Thanks to Bill Whipple, Tom Celona and the folks of the Nutty Buddy Collective, the New England Acorn Cooperative has 18 special oak saplings to plant this spring. If all goes well, they will be producing acorns the size of golfballs in a couple decades.

In honor of Arbor Day, two of these special oaks are going to the Eleanor Bradley Estate to be planted as part of an educational walk on the grounds tomorrow with Tim Ryan and Danielle McDonald. The rest are shared out to cooperative members throughout New England, along with a plethora of acorns collected and shared by Trustees Horticulturalist of the Ames and Bradley Estates Jeff Thompson –  thank you Jeff!

Permaculture students of one field or another, we are following suggestions that it is also the “right” time (lunarly)  to plant ’em for the planet. Thanks to Myles Green and Alvin Kho for sorting nuts (and sharing acorn bread, fresh juice, and lovely yummy cheeses)  last week in preparation.

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“Between New Moon and Full Moon… you can plant any plant that produces fruit and seeds. In the orchard, plant trees. Planting by the moon phases Calendar for April 2017

Cycles of the moon have influenced planting historically in cultures all over the world… Permaculture co-originator David Holmgren’s writes:

“good design depends on a free and harmonious relationship to nature and people, in which careful observation and thoughtful interaction provide the design inspiration, repertoire and patterns.”
 

New moon also the time to plant ideas… What do you think?

Thoughts become things…get growing!

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Check out what the Nutty Buddies are up to with their Acornucopia project, indeed a go!

 

Celebrate Arbor Day – Plant an Oak!

Saturday April 29th 10am – noon.

Join New England Acorn Cooperative Educator and Massachusetts Certified Arborist Timothy Ryan in planting a special Oak sapling on the grounds of the Bradley Estate. Learn the benefits of planting a tree while we show you the proper way to plant and care for it during the first three years. We will also take a light hike through the grounds to learn the basics of identifying different species of trees and their part in the local ecosystem. Meet at 10am at the Main House and we’ll go from there. Dress for the weather!

Trustee Members $5 Non-members $10 Children FREE
508-636-4693 x 5003 bradley@thetrustees.org

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Coffee Break – Acorn coffee!

As soon as Carol shared the story of Lithuanian Acorn Coffee,  Deb processed the first batch and shared the creamy nutty taste (and then a short workshop) with me.  It’s time consuming, but what a delicious and fragrant hot beverage!  Powerful refreshment – no caffeine :-)

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Instructions for New England Cooperative Acorn Coffee (Lithuanian Style):

1 cup dried, hulled, and cracked acorn (too-large pieces won’t leach well) into the pot with 3 cups  whole milk.

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Bring to boil then lower flame/heat to simmer for an hour – stirring regularly so acorns don’t burn on the bottom. The mixture will thicken considerably. Enjoy the caramel smells, but don’t taste, well I now know…  yuck-o!

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Cool enough so it is not a burn danger then pour “porridge” through colander – use cheesecloth if you don’t have a wire one so you don’t lose small bits) and rinse thoroughly (rub with fingers or wooden spoon to free clingy bits) under warm to cool water to remove all milky substance that has tannins bound in it.  Remember, smells good, tastes horrible – down the drain or compost with all milk by-product…

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Pat milk-boiled acorn bits dry and transfer to skillet to slow roast til they are toasty-brown.

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Cool and store until you’re ready to make a cup. Use coffee grinder to pulverize.

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To make acorn coffee, take 1 part water and 2 parts sweet cream or milk. Add 3 teaspoons of acorn grounds into the boiling liquid, and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Add more milk or cream and sugar to taste.

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May you be healthy, may you be happy, may you live with ease!

Tree of Life and …

This change of season highlights the cycle we are in.  As we plan clean-up activities for Earth Day and planting oak saplings on Arbor Day this spring, we consider our eventual return to earth too…

The Acorn Cooperative’s mission includes education for care and repair of the earth, and we have learned that one of the most heinous polluters of our ground and water are the unnecessary chemicals and materials used in “modern” burial practices…

Natural or Green Burial is a growing art and science. Please, take time to educate yourself about how much good you can do by planning responsibly. Thank you Marcie for sharing this lovely company’s idea for gentle return –  versus needless  toxic chemicals, steel, wood and concrete in mother earth…

Behold, an Acorn Urn.

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For more information about natural or green burial try:  New England Green Funeral the Green Burial Council.  Also, be aware of Home Funeral arrangements, it can be a most healing process.

Take heart, take root :-)

2017 Acorn Dinners, Birthdays & Breakfasts

Much love to current and new Cooperative Friends who started 2017 with wonderful acorn food based gatherings, dinners, birthdays and breakfasts – and are working to create more  community education opportunities and resources… Recipes to follow (soon)!

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2017 NOFA Winter Conference Workshop, thanks!

Belated and BIG thanks to acorn aficionado Myles Greene for this expert and enthusiastic acorn processing workshop at the 2017  NOFA Winter Conference in January:

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Dispelling Myths of the Acorn: From Tree to Table
Ever think to yourself, “I wish I could eat all those acorns littered on the ground?” Learn about North America’s most under-utilized wild food, how and when to harvest, and most importantly, how to process the acorn in this workshop. This workshop will be a combination of introductory lecture and hands-on: We will utilize ancestral and modern methods to process acorns.
Myles Green – Forager, beekeeper, gardener

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Myles has delivered educational programs and workshops to young folks for years  and is working with the Cooperative to develop curriculum for middle school students.  He also makes an amazing acorn banana bread!

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The Longest Night…

…and pretty cold too, HAPPY SOLSTICE! A perfect time to catch up on all the news that is fit to print since the October Workshop.   Its been a busy and abundant  acorn harvest season.

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NUTS
Maine friends brought down many bags in early fall, Rusty Acorn Farm experienced an acorn mast year in New Hampshire, Oaklore in Vermont reported good gathering there  (though a short season), and the Commonwealth’s Cooperative members are still doing well, particularly around the ponds – where there are still some to be found. Tim one-upped us on the acorn weasel and is now driving an 18″ bag-a-nut ( making short work of nuts on lawns and pathways). He and Danielle also contributed drying racks  to the Coop, thank you both!

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EQUIPMENT
The Cooperative’s Acorn Flour Mill is in operation!  We were delighted and humbled by the outstanding support and service we received from C.S. Bell Co. (online and over the phone) to make the mill ready for acorn flour production.  They were knowledgeable,  thorough,  respectful of our budget, and had excellent suggestions for optimizing what we had. The mill  is our first industrial piece of equipment (& she is loud) and is available to members who have 50lbs or more of dried (leached or unleached) acorns that need milling. What a little workhorse she is, and what a great company to work with – thank you Dan and Kiki at C.S. Bell Co! We are happy, happy customers.

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NEW PEOPLE
More recently, through  meet-ups organized  by the Resilience Hub we’ve connected with new Maine and Massachusetts based acorn hunters, foragers, and food forest advocates. Thanks to Lisa and Elaine for opening and creating the opportunities, big ups to Evan Morgan for delicious Corn Acorn biscuits.

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MORE PEOPLE …and life changing loaves of acorn bread for  a potluck with  Boston Food Forest Coalition members.  These folks have and are doing amazing work in Boston neighborhoods – check them out!  So much to learn and share as the days grow longer now..

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Finally!  First batch of 2016 flour is milled and ready to send westward in thanks for Harvesting Howard’s Acorn Chips and Bye You Bug :-)!

 

UPCOMING WORKSHOP
Our newest Cooperative member Myles Green brought folks together for a jam (and turkey) packed Friendsgiving, centered around hulling an enormous and beautiful basket of acorns.

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Myles has been working with acorns for a number of years ( studied with Arthur Haines among others) and will be doing a workshop on acorn processing at the Northeast Organic Farming Association NOFA Winter Conference, January 14th. Registration is through NOFA.  More details will be posted on the Events page when the final schedule is set.

myles-acorn-workshopPeace and plenty.

Come see Seed: The Untold Story

We missed the needed number to bring this to Hingham December 5th :-(… YET, here’s another chance to see it Thursday February 9th at 7:30pm  in Hanover, MA –  if you help Norwell Farms efforts to book it  by visiting  http://bit.ly/2dArEks  (link to Gathr Films)  & reserve a seat today!

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SEED: The Untold Story is a feature-length documentary featuring Vandana Shiva, Dr. Jane Goodall, Andrew Kimbell, and Winona LaDuke, following passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000-year old food legacy.

THEATRE LOCATION: 

Hanover Mall Cinemas 10
1775 Washington Street
Hanover, MA 02339

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