Stephen Barstow from Malvik in Norway here! In short, I am passionately interested in edible plants and have trialled some 3,000 edibles over the last 30 years in my garden just outside of Trondheim, not that far short of the Arctic circle, most of them perennials. It doesn’t get dark here for 3 months in summer and winters are dark, brightened by the aurora, snow and the moon
I moved here from the UK in 1981 to work with ocean waves. I was vegetarian, not uncommon in the UK at that time, but almost unheard of in Norway. It was a shock as it almost seemed as though vegetables were illegal with only a handful of varieties in the supermarkets and often no veggies or veggie alternatives in restaurants. To survive, we just had to grow our own…. People told me it was difficult to grow vegetables as the summers were so cool (average temperature around 14-15C). Today, I believe it is quite possibly one of the easiest places to grow vegetables, but it’s important not just to copy what the rest of the world grows. Observe and learn! The answer has been perennials, some of which give amazing yields here, higher than traditional crops and very easy to grow organically, unlike annual crops. Despite the lack of vegetables in the shops, I soon learned about the local group of the Norwegian Useful Plants Society who taught me the richness of the wild edible flora around my house (spring greens and berries and fungi in the fall). This also set me on a journey around the world exploring local food traditions and wild foraged plants, many of which were domesticated locally on a small scale. I was inspired by traditional multi-species dishes in many countries, particularly the Mediterranean countries. This lead to a salad consisting of 537 varieties in 2003, earning me the title of "Extreme Salad Man" . My garden is quite complicated ecologically which has allowed me to choose the right ecotypes for my plants. The last 5 years there's been a huge upswing in interest in edibles and I've had many permies visiting. They told me I had a forest garden - of course I do!
Now, after working on it for 8 years, my book "Around the World in 80 plants: an edible perennial vegetable adventure for temperate climates" was published on 19 November 2014 in the UK and was released early January 2015 by Chelsea Green in the US. More information and links on my web site: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=30
I have also coordinated the Norwegian Seed Savers organization since 2006.
I am now embarking on an Around the World tour giving talks / courses based on the book and am probably coming to Oregon in September, visiting various permaculture festivals along the way! Events are summarized here and will be updated: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=262 I look forward to participating here!
Great video. Lots of interesting plants you have there in that presentation. Do you have that information available on line or is that something you only present in person? I was amazed by the number of ornamentals that are edible and I like your "edimentals" word. Have to start using that from now on.
Looking forward to to getting your book and seeing what I can find wild on my trips to different places.
The book is the best compact source of information. However, I've blogged about many of my favourite edibles/edimentals over the past few years, mainly on FB (https://www.facebook.com/stephen.barstow.7) and various other on-line fora. However, FB isn't very accessible/searchable, so i started a web site www.edimentals.com a few months back, so blog mostly there now with copy to FB. Have a look, there's already quite a lot of material there. Otherwise, I give a lot of talks and day courses on the plants and hope to be in the US (Oregon) at the end of August.
How wonderful and exciting to find these resources on here! I was just showing my friend’s daughter YouTube videos that how to decorate cakes with edible flowers. Though she is only 5, she’d wake up daily since and ask me to show more pictures of flower cakes. I only grew Borage and Nasturtiums with the purpose of eating but my family did use Roses, pansies and Johnny jump ups if I remember correctly. Here in the U.S. unless you grow your own, it’s hard to find non chemically laden flowers.