We relish every opportunity of getting fresh foods while bicycling, as we're used to having fresh produce from gardening and horticultural research (one big perk of horticulture grad school!). One (free) opportunity that has recently presented itself is fresh picked wild mulberries.
When we visited Draco Hill Farm, in West Branch, Iowa, Suzan Erem gave a thorough and fascinating tour of the property, from prairie restorations and wooded areas to their newly planted orchard. She paused to point out all the “learning opportunities” they had while figuring out how to turn an overgrazed, hilly piece of land back into the habitat it used to be. Every summer Suzan and her husband Paul have WOOFers (like farm interns) at the farm who help them remove invasive species, plant native species, and do anything else that comes up while trying to restore land and bring it into a healthy system of production. She also made sure to pause at all the mulberry trees along the tour route so the group could pick to their hearts' content. The next day Paul made a mulberry cobbler, and that got us thinking a lot about mulberries.
A few days later, on a trail leading out of Dubuque, Iowa, we noticed dark spots on the pavement every so often, clustered under trees. We realized not too much later that they were our old friend, the mulberry! We stopped at the next mulberry tree and picked and ate as many as we could reach. I felt like we were playing out the story from Blueberries for Sal. With only a few more reachable berries, we speculated that mulberries would be a great addition to our daily ritual of morning oats. We made a vow to stop at the next mulberry tree we saw and fill up our tupperware with berries.
A few miles down the trail, we found a tree laden with berries. The only problem was the berries were mostly out of reach, even for Paul. Our solution is pictured below… Oh, and it turns out that fresh mulberries are indeed a wonderful addition to oats, especially on a rainy morning.