For me, the fun of Unfarmed is not only meeting inspiring people, learning these skills and the value of the environment around me, but to begin identifying these resources around me and developing my own relationship with them; it's been incredibly gratifying. I knew nothing about tule nor it's uses before I met Dino - and now I come to realize it grows not 500 feet from my front door.
Quick explanation - summertime hit us with a ton of trips, work and things, hence the radio silence; but we're back baby!
During a day with Dino Labiste in Fremont, CA, his super kind way and easy-going demeanor made it a total pleasure. Dino is a Naturalist for the East Bay Regional Parks, an educator as well as an artist. He focuses on primitive methods in his work and has an organization called Primitive Ways, where he and a collective offer classes and workshops in primitive skills and crafts. Check him out.
Harvest & Prep Notes
Tule, aka Schoenoplectus acutus, grows in swampy areas, near lakes and ponds all over North America. Summertime is a good time to harvest, helping to thin it out, as it can grow quite thick. Clip the stalks low. Leave them to dry in the sun, ideally only one or two layers of stalks to avoid mold. When they have been bleached by the sun they'll be a little brittle. Before working with the tule, cover the stalks with a tarp and spritz occasionally with water. The idea is to moisten to make it pliable, but not to saturate it; a generous spritz at a time should do the trick. When you can twist the tule in your fingers without any breakage, you'll be ready to start weaving along. For proper instruction - get with Dino and make it happen!