Copyright ©2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Some really small agriculture is behind the kinds of farmers markets we've profiled on this program across the summer. And this morning we'll get out of the farmers market and get into some of the green spaces of Seattle. Cities may be full of pavement, but that doesn't mean you can't do a little growing.

NPR's Martin Kaste sends us this ode to the urban blackberry.

MARTIN KASTE: This is the time of year when you see Seattleites foraging for their food. You see them in the parks and along the roadside…

(Soundbite of leaves crunching)

KASTE: …as they wade into the thorny overgrowth, plastic pails in hand.

Ms. SARAH CAMPBELL: This one is six cups and this one is 12.

KASTE: Sarah Campbell is in Seattle's Magnusson Park, filling her pails with blackberries.

How fast can you fill those?

Ms. CAMPBELL: I'm hoping I can do both of them in a hour. And then go home and I'm going to make a pie and an apple-blackberry crisp.

KASTE: There's something about urban berry-picking that appeals to the northwestern soul - with a little taste of life off the grid on your way to Starbucks, free dessert on a street where parking meters charge two bucks an hour. Plus, those prickly bushes owe us.

Ms. CAMPBELL: Three seasons out of the year it's just the bane of our existence.

KASTE: The state of Washington calls the Himalayan blackberry bush a Class C noxious weed.

Ms. CAMPBELL: In the winter it's ugly and rangy and, like, dead, you know. And in the spring it crops up all over your yard where you don't want it. It's prickly. You know, in the fall it's just there. But in the summer, it's all it's the glory. You get, like, three weeks when you love the blackberry plant.

KASTE: All it takes is one bite of the perfect berry - one of those from the top of the bush - one that's nothing but sweet globules of juice and all is forgiven. Of course, that doesn't mean a let-up in the war against the bushes.

(Soundbite of goats baaing)

KASTE: One hundred and twenty goats attack a ten-foot wall of blackberry bushes, infesting the property of a local aerospace company.

Ms. TAMMY DUNNACAN(ph): Blackberry - the whole plant is one of their favorite foods.

KASTE: Tammy Dunnacan owns this herd. Her goats are professional blackberry bush eradicators. She calls her business Rent-a-Ruminant. These eating machines can be hired to clear an acre of blackberry bushes in less than a week. Does she ever get complaints from the human berry pickers?

Ms. DUNNACAN: Sometimes. Then sometimes they'll be like, oh, don't, you know, don't eat that one spot. That's my favorite place to pick. But, you know, there's so many here, we have so many blackberries, that there's totally enough to go around, there really is.

KASTE: And in these economic times, there's some comfort in that thought. No matter what happens at Boeing or Microsoft, we can always count on a steady supply of free blackberries.

Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.

INSKEEP: Learn about farmers markets at NPR.org.

It's NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.