Knotweed is one of Pittsburgh’s most well known invasive species, taking over yards and gardens throughout the city’s neighborhoods. To help battle the weed, GTECH Strategies created the Knots on Lots program with catalytic funding from a Sprout Fund Seed Award.
The program works to contain the spread of knotweed by harvesting the pesky plant as a resource for making paper. But last night, GTECH partnered with Chef Chad Townsend of Salt of the Earth to show off another use for the weed at Bar Marco: as an ingredient for delicious dishes. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Diana Nelson Jones spoke to Chef Chad as he prepared for the event.
“Knot Your Typical No Menu Monday” at Bar Marco raised money for GTECH’s vacant land use program and served as an opportunity to show the reasons for cutting knotweed other than to get rid of it. Attendees sampled asparagus and knotweed with lettuce, chicken with knotweed broth, pork terrine with knotweed jelly and apple and knotweed pie. Because it is June, the knotweed isn’t as tender as it is in April.
“I treat it very aggressively,” mostly with sugar, Mr. Townsend said. “It’s in the rhubarb family and develops a high acid content. You couldn’t possibly eat the amount of knotweed we have. It is free food but not a windfall, because it’s very labor intensive and requires long cooking times.”
Okay, so it might not be the next Goji berry, but it’s got people thinking about how to deal with complex land issues in innovative ways.
As Megan Zeigler, GTECH’s senior project manager, pointed out, if you miss it when it’s tender, you can still eat it with much doctoring, and you can make paper out of it. If you’re late to that party, you can make bee houses out of it; this is another project GTECH is discussing with Chatham University.
Ultimately, you can burn it and make bio-char to amend soil. The use of a nuisance plant to improve soil is one of life’s sweet ironies. It’s a thrill to learn of so many uses and that people are supporting efforts to improve those uses.
Read the whole story on the Post-Gazette website, and learn more about GTECH Strategies and their efforts to grow and improve the city through energy and community health with projects like Knots on Lots, ReFuel PGH and ReClaim.