Dagmar and the Garlic Mustard Pie By Sharon Lovertt Dagmar had a way of making subjects that could appear to be depressing because of their negative implications interesting and positive by changing the way she looked at it. I attended her Edible Weeds workshop (see the photo gallery) at the Brickworks in May of 2008 just before my High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program was going to have a garlic mustard pulling session, as we did every spring. We look at invasive species in the park as something really awful that we spend most of the summer trying to get rid of in order for the native plants to have a fighting chance to grow. Dagmar, of course knew this as she was one of the founders of our group as well as innumerable other native plant initiatives, but she saw using them as an opportunity to provide something useful and nourishing. Her workshop dealt with the medicinal and other nutritional qualities of a variety of weeds and she had prepared several batches of spanakopita made from garlic mustard, rather than spinach for everyone to taste. It was not at all to my taste (being bitter) but I did appreciate the idea behind it. She then suggested that people should go out and collect it to make their own. Parks were one place that she suggested. I objected to this since at High Park, no one is supposed to remove any plant material, since an enormous amount of poaching nuts, mushrooms, flowers etc. goes on. She countered that she though that taking garlic mustard was OK since it was being thrown out anywhere and people who were hungry could use it. I replied that the people who were poaching other things were not likely using them because they were hungry and that having people spread the garlic mustard around and then put part in garden waste was a great way to spread the weed. It was only reading her story today that I saw how her experiences during the war and afterwards made knowledge of foraging a matter of personal survival. Neither of us changed our point of view, but the reason I am writing this is that having differing opinions was OK with her. It didn’t affect how we thought about each other. She continued to email me with ideas and a lovely poem about High Park and gave a talk to my group on the early days of the VSP and I continued to think that she was a wonderful person who has done an incredible amount of work towards native plant restoration and community gardening that will take a lot of us forever to continue. Although gardening and native plants were very important to her, people always came first. See http://perth-dupont.parkcommons.ca/wiki/wiki.php?n=InTheGardenShed.HighParkIsASacredPlace for her poem. If this does not work see www.parkcommons.ca. Click on Perth-Dupont Community Garden. In the Garden Shed. Dagmar Baur. High Park is a Sacred Place.

From Laura on 06/06/2010