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The Wild Gourmet: Seasonal Cooking with Native Plants

Author Alicia Funk Announced as Featured Speaker for 2012 Dara Emery Memorial Lecture

September 11, 2012

Joni Kelly, SBBG Communications Manager

The Wild Gourmet: Seasonal Cooking with Native Plants
Author Alicia Funk Announced as Featured Speaker for 2012 Dara Emery Memorial Lecture

Santa Barbara, CA – September 11, 2012

Would you like to make food and medicine from native plants in your own yard? Mix-up a potent household cleaner from California bay? What about creating a lovely cider using toyon berries and baking homemade crackers using manzanita for something truly unique for holiday entertaining? The many uses of native plants in making delicious food, tea, medicines, and even household items will be the topic of the 2012 Dara Emery Memorial Lecture at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on Saturday, October 6 at 4:30pm.

Each year, the Garden honors the horticultural legacy of Dara Emery with this very special lecture. During his 35-year tenure as Horticulturist, Mr. Emery launched several SBBG programs that continue to this day, such as the annual Fall Plant Sale (which takes place throughout October), the Garden Growers Nursery, and the Plant Introduction Program. His invaluable book, Seed Propagation of Native California Plants, remains the standard reference on the subject.

This year’s featured speaker will be Alicia Funk, a leader in the field of natural living for over 20 years, founder of The Living Wild Project, and co-author of Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of the Sierra Nevada, with Karin Kaufman. After studying botanical medicine from indigenous peoples in Ecuador, Ms. Funk continued her work in California, editing six books on herbal medicine and speaking widely on issues of sustainability and wellness. Published in 2011, Living Wild is an entertaining collection of plant profiles, recipes, and a guide to handcrafted projects. With detailed instructions on making acorn flour, manzanita ‘sugar’, jams, cider, wine, and more, Living Wild has projects for both kids and adults alike.

“Our modern-day American diet relies upon a mere 30 or so plant species, while 200 years ago, an indigenous Californian's diet would have included about more than 1,000 plant species” says Ms. Funk. She seeks to connect people with the nutrition of our landscape through cooking native local foods that are tasty, beautifully prepared, and carbon-free. “We can reduce our carbon footprint by avoiding carbon-heavy foods and instead using natives — plants that are both beautiful for the landscape garden, and delicious to eat. Making sugar from manzanita berries and substituting oak nut flour for water-thirsty, pesticide-intensive wheat are steps which move us closer to the land, while helping to address climate change.”

This year’s event is Saturday, October 6 at 4:30pm, and features a wine and hors d’ouevres reception preceding the lecture. Some of the appetizers which will be served include recipes from the Living Wild book, giving participants the opportunity to sample these native plant treats. The general public is welcome to attend this informative talk on living sustainably and books are available for purchase in the Garden Shop. Ms. Funk will be on-hand to sign books and answer questions. Reservations are required and the cost is $20 for SBBG members and $25 for non-members. Contact the Registrar at (805) 682-4726 ext. 102; via email: registrations@sbbg.org or register online at www.sbbg.org under “classes”. 

image of Manzanita Crackers prepared by Alicia FunkMANZANITA CRACKERS

Collect berries in summer.
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups Manzanita berries or 1 cup prepared Manzanita sugar (See “Condiments and Staples” section for recipe)
2 cups flour (wheat, Oak nut, or gluten-free substitute)
1/2 cup oil
2/3 -1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
METHOD:
If using whole berries, prepare Manzanita sugar by grinding berries roughly in a coffee grinder. Push the ground berries through a strainer to remove the seeds. Preheat oven to 375o. Mix 1 cup berry powder with flour, salt and oil until mix is crumbly.
Gradually add water to form dough. Roll or press dough onto baking sheet in a thin layer, or roll on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter to make desired shapes.
Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown. Watch closely as cooking times may vary.
NIFTY TIP:
For added color, use a strainer with a large mesh to make the sugar. This will add some of the red skins, while keeping out the seeds.

Visitors can also enjoy shopping for native plants as the Garden’s courtyard is transformed into a botanical wonderland during the Garden’s Fall Plant Sale which will continue throughout the month of October. All proceeds support the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden general fund.

To arrange an interview or high-resolution photos, please contact Joni Kelly, Communications Manager, at 805-682-4726 ext. 132 or via cell at 805-886-1869.
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About the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden:
The Garden is a 78-acre educational and scientific institution fostering the conservation of California’s native plants and serves as a role model for sustainable practice in Santa Barbara, California. The Garden was founded in 1926 and is among of the nation’s oldest botanic gardens focused exclusively on native plants.

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# # # #

About the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: 
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a 78-acre educational and scientific institution fostering the conservation of California’s native plants and serves as a role model for sustainable practice in Santa Barbara, California. The Garden was founded in 1926 and is among the nation’s oldest botanic gardens focused exclusively on native plants.

To arrange an interview or to request high-resolution photos, please contact:

SBBG Communications Department
office: (805) 690-1697
email:gbenesh@sbbg.org