Living Off The Land — By John Reed

Living Off The Land
I learned something new this week. Yes, believe it or not, folks in their seventh decade are capable of learning. Apparently I’ve been growing a cash crop I never knew about. I thought my few fruit trees and boxes of veggies was it. Then there are the grapevines, and then the timber. I suppose you could count the catfish or potential hay, if I didn’t live on the lawn mower on weekends.
I didn’t know it, but in addition to the other stuff, I’ve been producing another valuable crop: palmetto berries. Considered a home remedy for various health issues, I’ve been contacted by several people asking to harvest them on my land. Who knew?
Anyone who grows muscadine grapes knows about the health benefits of the fruit, the skin, even the seeds. They’re full of the anti-oxidants that are said to prevent cancer. Yay, yet another reason to enjoy a glass or two of locally-produced wine!
Looking through Google, there are multiple news items about people being arrested for illegally picking the berries: either trespassing on private property, or, in some states, not having a permit to pick them. That sounds a bit harsh. It’s bad enough the government can fine you for shooting a rabbit on your own property, but now they can send you to jail for picking berries…
So as I said, I’ve learned something. Health foods stores sell palmetto extracts for good money, so I guess it’s worth the heat and thorny leaves to pick the berries. Looking further, I have wax myrtle bushes, good for soap making; bay trees, good for seasoning certain soups and sauces; huckleberries, good for…just plain eating off the bush!
I’m sure a good herbalist or Native American shaman could find tons of valuable stuff out there. Just be sure to ask permission first…

Leave a Comment