Nettles and the future of Shutesbury Market


Canned grape juice, the easy way


FARMSTAND is STILL OPEN : Wed 4-6 pm and Sat 12-4

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The Future of our Farmers Market

At our Farm & Forestry Commission meeting last night we were discussing having mini-workshops at the Farmers Market next year, as a way to get people more involved in growing/canning and thinking about their food and health, and also to entice more people to come to market! We really want the Shutesbury Farmers Market to be a weekly community gathering, where people WANT to come not only for their produce, beef, mushrooms, baskets, jewelry, photos, soap, aprons, flowers, candles and syrup (and lets not forget trash bags!) but for fun! We’d love to get more music there, maybe every week! Who knows, maybe someday someone will have coffee, tea and muffins for sale (made in a certified kitchen of course)! Or how ’bout an art show? What would you like to see at OUR market? What is it about other markets or the Amherst market that draws you there, and not to ours? Is it just habit? variety? friends? community?



canned tomatoes and salsa


One idea we had was to hold workshops (free?), maybe weekly, about different life skills – things like starting a garden, canning & food preservation, jam-making, making a compost tea “digester”, weed-walks, starting your own mushroom logs, bread-baking, making salves and healing balms, needle felting or natural toy-making… What are your ideas? We’d love to hear them! You can either reply to this post (on my blog) or reply to me personally at and I’ll pass it along at our next meeting.

This overlaps with Transition Towns a little maybe, but I feel like we have such a diverse community with so many things we could teach other, why not share our knowledge? It can only make us stronger. And it’s much cheaper and healthier to make your own bread, or can your own tomatoes and jam, or make your tree ornaments and presents for Christmas…



sharing the last of the elderberries


Stinging Nettles

On another note, I’d like to share a recipe that is one of my favorites. If you have Nettles growing somewhere in your yard (hopefully out of the way) you may have cut them back in the Spring, to dry them or make fresh tea. Drying and cooking gets rid of the formic acid, so that you do not get stung. I cut mine back again in the summer because they had snuck into my garden and the kids and I would occasionally get a stinging rash if we brushed against them. No problem, though, because plantain is always nearby in the grass – just pick a leaf, chew it up, and plop the whole goop from your mouth on the sting, it takes it right out. It sounds lovely, I know, but it works. So now that it’s Fall, the Nettles have regrown, and are ready for cutting again!

When harvesting Nettles, use gloves and scissors, but most importantly, be present. Thank the Nettles and look around at the plants, “seeing” them. I think they like to be seen. Harvest them before they flower, when they are under 12″ tall. Do you know they are FULL of protein (more than any other native plant), chlorophyll, lots of iron, trace minerals and vitamins? Matthew Wood in The Book of Herbal Wisdom has a great 10-page write-up on Nettles if you are interested, and it’s a great book besides.ย  Nettles also helps with pollen allergies. Drinking tea (or eating nettles steamed, or taking freeze-dried capsules) 4 weeks before allergy season starts is supposed to (and does in my experience) really help with symptoms. It also just makes you super strong! Nettles help get rid of stuck phlegm, gently cleaning and strengthening the kidneys so they can work better at getting rid of wastes in the body. And there’s all that GREEN-ness! My new favorite way to have them is cooked in a Nettle Loaf.



Nettle loaf with pesto sauce and cherry tomatoes


Nettle Loaf Recipe

(Preheat oven to 400 degrees)

3 cups steamed Nettles, pureed in a cuisinart

1 medium-sized onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery (if it’s in season, if not I don’t use it!)

3 eggs, beaten

2 Tbls melted butter

2-1/2ย  cups cooked rice (or millet would be good, too)

Combine and pour into well-greased loaf or pie pan. Place in oven and turn down temp to 375. Loaf pan takes about 35 min, but a pie pan only takes 20-25 (my new favorite method). Last time I made it the kids requested that I puree the chopped onion because they don’t like the chunks, and it worked really well. Serve hot with either a pesto sauce (see below) or a Tahini sauce (wisk together equal parts tahini and water, with a little lemon and tamari/soy sauce to taste). The tomatoes on the side added a nice flavor, so did grated cheese. I imagine you could use other greens and grains as well, or add sundry tomatoes or grated carrot for color… the possibilities are endless, as with any recipe I believe.

Pesto Sauce

(more nutty than basil-y, and thinner, more oil like a “sauce”)

1 small bunch of fresh basil

2 cups walnuts

grated goat gouda (you could use romano or parmesean, this is just what we use)

2 cloves crushed garlic (or more -or less- to taste)

Blend all those together in the cuisinart, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil, to the texture you like, with the blade still mixing. I like it runny, just to make it a different texture than traditional pesto. You could also use some fresh parsley as well as basil, they are delicious together.



Interplanting winter crops around the remaining tomatoes in the greenhouse


We have another week of Farmers Market, maybe more if attendance is good, so come on by! It’s geting quiet back there! Becky will post it in the weekly Town Administrator report (online, sign up at ) if we stop before Oct 30, and I’ll try to mention it as well. Remember to email me or post a reply with any thoughts on market workshops (or other ideas!) All will be heard!

Thanks for reading. And visit Ben and Adri’s Fields and Fire if you want to REALLY be inspired to make nourishing home-cooked meals, from scratch. They always have good ideas.

Sarah, Birch Moon Farm & Herbals

42 Cooleyville Rd, Shutesbury center

FARMSTAND is STILL OPEN : Wed 4-6 pm and Sat 12-4

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