Sage, on the City

Sage from my herb garden

Last weekend I cooked two dishes that required fresh herbs – a pugliese seafood pasta with sage, and a rosemary cake with… rosemary. Finding fresh rosemary is never a problem at our house, as we have two unruly giants of rosemary bushes in the front yard, which produce enough of the fragrant stuff to suit our needs and those of at least two large mediterranean families. Sage, though, is a bit tricky – our sad sack sage plant didn’t survive the first frost after just a year of un-remarkable growth and a bit of over-zealous harvesting. I was stuck for sage and didn’t want to resort to the plastic-packaged herbs that seem to be wilting away in every supermarket produce cooler. Are herbs so delicate that they must not be allowed, in any case, to touch the other produce? Is it really necessary to produce more plastic to save the tarragon from bruising? $1.99 for a branch of sage? No thanks.

As it turns out I’ve already paid for a pile of the stuff – with my taxes.

In two of the nearby civic parks there are small tracts of sage growing, in each case planted as ground cover and in each case growing like the proverbial weed. Deciding it would do no harm to pick a branch or two, I armed myself with a pair of scissors, walked the two blocks to the park, and returned with two nice sage branches.

Vancouver already has a fruit tree program that is supported by the city. And, approaching 2010, the city has been funding a whole slough of public garden initiatives. I wonder if the herbs that are starting to appear in our public parks are a quiet expansion of this idea? I would certainly love to see some thickets of thyme appear in the park down the street, and can imagine oregano growing quite nicely. Is there a hope for the city-funded, urban herb garden? Can your local round-about garden become a culinary oasis? Fresh herbs are a key part of great cooking, and I would argue that having these plants readily available would encourage people to cook more and eat better, which is surely a win for the population as a whole.

Is the city growing herbs in the parks near your neighbourhood? Should I be picking plants from a park? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Top image by Narisa, on Flickr.


One Response to “Sage, on the City”

  1. Posted on January 26th, 2009

    I’d say, sure, go for it. Edible gardens are a good thing and if the City is going to offer it up, why not? That said, I was talking to Andrea about it and she cautioned that you won’t be sure if the plants have been sprayed, and if so, by what. Or what sort of stuff (chemicals, etc.) is in the soil. So, if you don’t care about the organic pedigree of the plant, just make sure you wash it well.

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