• Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org
  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation
  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion
  • Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org

    We've changed our website. Please update your bookmarks to LocalBanquet.org LocalBanquet.org is where you will now find the latest Local Banquet stories, a new Story of the Day update feature, features from the archives, and information on how to contribute to Local Banquet if you're interested in writing about Vermont agriculture. 

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  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation

    Back in 2007, Local Baquet ran an article by Bonnie Hudspeth on maple innovation and production in Vermont. Since then, maple production in Vermont has tripled to 1.8 million gallons a year and innovation seems to have entered a new golden (or perhaps amber) age. We did a quick maple innovation news round up for 2018 / 2019 to help everyone keep up with the some of the trends. 

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  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion

    In 2015, the USDA funded a project for UVM researchers to engage in discussions with Vermont farmers about the idea of being paid for ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are things farmers do that improve the environment for everyone, a common example is grass-based farms capturing carbon in the soil as a way to combat climate change. Some services happen naturally through sustainable farming, others take more of an incentive to implement, and either way some policy makers believe that farmers shoudl be compensated for their contribution. 

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Cooking the Sting Out

Illustration of Nettle plant

Written By

Meg Lucas

Written on

March 01 , 2008

If you take care, and wear the proper gear, you can harvest an abundant and fascinating wild edible. Folks who have been stung by this rascal know what I’m talking about, while those who haven’t had the pleasure of eating it will undoubtedly come to appreciate this nutritious and tasty plant.

The stinging nettle makes its appearance all over Vermont in early spring. You can find it near walls, at the perimeters of gardens, and in fields. You will be hard pressed to miss its bright green foliage and its strongly serrated leaf edge. But beware: if nettles make contact with your bare skin, they will give you some mighty hurtful welts which typically last 10 minutes to several hours. The tiny hairs of this plant, which dislodge with rapid speed, contain a mix of poisons, which often startle and sting.

Warnings aside, this is a great pot herb and a wonderful source of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins?definitely worth the effort. Did you know that nettles contain the highest plant source of iron? Nettles also have the reputation of being a detoxifying and rejuvenating agent, cleansing us after a long winter season and preparing us for the warmth and growth to follow. Oh, and did I mention that once fully cooked the sting disappears? Nettles have a taste similar to spinach and can be substituted in most recipes. A good friend of mine likes to simply sauté them with garlic and serve with pasta.

When harvesting nettles, you will want to don a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of thick gardening gloves. Also handy is a paper bag and a pair of shears or scissors. As you harvest, try to collect the young green leaves at the top of the plant, as they are the most tender. The idea is to hold the paper bag under the leaf you want to harvest and snip it with the scissors, allowing it to fall into the bag.

The arrival of the nettle, one of the first wild greens to appear in the spring, offers a welcome break to your diet if you’ve been subsisting on canned goods, root vegetables, and meat this past winter. Here’s a simple, traditional Irish recipe that incorporates nettles into the remainder of last year’s potatoes.

Illustration:USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database /
Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913.An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 635.

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About the Author

Meg Lucas

Meg Lucas

Co-publisher Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine

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Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.