Mulberry Madness Festival promotes goodness of mulberries


— The Baltimore Orchard Project is hosting its third annual Mulberry Madness Festival this month by hosting mulberry harvests around the city to promote the goodness of mulberries, and the awareness of something organizers deem even more important: the need to re-imagine a 21st century food system that must gear up to feed 9 billion people world-wide.

Though mulberries are small, they have tremendous health benefits, which include being a great source of antioxidants. Mulberries also provide immune system support, promote healthy blood sugar levels and are a good source of protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, and iron. Amazingly, the fruit can be found free for the picking throughout our city.

“Mulberry Madness was designed to connect Baltimore City residents to the fruits in the city that ripen each June,

reduce food waste, and expand the choices that make up our dietary palette,” said Eric Sargent, planting coordinator at Civic Works’ Baltimore Orchard Project. “We invite Baltimore residents to take part in our many harvest events happening in parks across the city. We also encourage Baltimoreans to take this knowledge back to their friends, family and community to find the mulberry trees in their neighborhoods and harvest the berries themselves.”

Officials noted that Mulberry Madness has also been designed to help expand the choices that make up the dietary palette of residents; enable everyone’s ability to eat locally; reduce food waste and help imagine a renewed food system that is good for people, the planet and prosperity.

“Mulberries are often seen as a nuisance because they drop on people’s cars, sidewalks, and throughout the city,” Sargent said. “It’s incredible to watch people’s perception of mulberries change when they learn they’re an edible and delicious fruit that can be enjoyed raw or in a variety of dishes ranging from pastries to barbecues sauce.”

The upcoming schedule for the Mulberry Madness Festival includes harvest events on Saturday, June 17 at Druid Hill Park; Tuesday, June 20 at Patterson Park; and Wednesday June 21 at Wyman Park.

Restaurant tasting events are planned at Atwaters from June 21 to June 27; Harmony Bakery from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 21; Dovecote Café from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 22; Bird in Hand and Artifact Coffee from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 23; Black Sauce and Michele’s Granola at the Waverly Farmers Market from 7 a.m. to noon on June 24; and Café Jovial from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 25.

Civic Works’ Baltimore Orchard Project, which strengthens communities through planting and cultivating orchards and teaching citizens to be long-term stewards, has also launched a “Funky Fruit Initiative, which is designed to publicize the problem of food waste and to show how “un-lovely and unusual foods can be delicious,” the organization said in a release.

Each year, the group harvests thousands of pounds of funky fruit and uses it to increase food access and awareness— ranging from selling apples at a discounted price to housing cooking demonstrations.

“This initiative doesn’t end with Mulberry Madness,” Sargent said. “Baltimore Orchard Project helps provide access to free and healthy food year round by educating residents on what’s available in their own backyard and by activating Orchard Stewards to care for the city’s many fruit trees.”

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