Monika Woolsey from Hip Veggies on Haboob Busters, Muertos with Cell Phones, and Nopales
What are your plans for the future of Hip Veggies?
We are starting to experiment with ways to partner with chefs, bartenders, etc. We have had nice results so far and I hope to do more of that. One thing I have learned is the more opportunities people have to try these foods the more they realize they like them. If we can get some of these foods to be better accepted that opens up creative options for chefs.
This year I have targeted the West Valley, Maryvale, and South Phoenix as new places to bring our energy. Last year I lectured at Estrella Mountain Community College and not one student in two classes had ever tried kale. It grows right in their backyard! That needs to change. As I am known to say, "We've got a bag for that!"
You forage and share amazing photos from your neighborhood (Arcadia) on instagram- what does a day of "foraging" look like?
Courtesy of Monika Woolsey Foraging in Arcadia reaps benefits.
It depends on the time of year. In the spring I made some dandelion pesto! Early summer I was busy harvesting mesquite beans, which are currently drying on my patio. There was a mulberry tree I loved to grab a snack from each morning as well. A month ago a neighbor invited me to take advantage of his fig and apple trees, and I was making fruit butters. Right now I have a vegetable bin full of tunas (prickly pear fruit), and am up to my ears in verdolagas (purslane). Pomegranates are ripening, then pyracantha berries, and then it is full on citrus season.
And, I just learned about two new ones! Just confirmed that those bright pink fruits on the night blooming cactus are edible and I'm anxious to try one soon. And fan palm berries are also edible.
What's in your small patio garden?
Mostly basil and purslane. I have an orange tree as well, I love eating those freshly picked. My friends know I have adventurous tastes so they often bring me overflow from their gardens. When they do, I try to blog about it under the title, "What I did with your food," figuring burnout can keep people from gardening.
Any new bag artists on the horizon?
We just scheduled our twelve 2014 artist team! Two photographers, two native foods, and a great mix of gender, culture, style, and message! I am super excited!
The artists are:
Hip Veggies supports local hunger relief organizations. How does that work?
I thought we'd be working primarily with food banks but I quickly learned that many people never even make it there. I keep finding situations where someone found a hungry situation and just decided to do something about it. We try to help those kind souls create solutions that build self-sufficiency.
Our Chavez kids are a great example. Initially we thought the target was going to be a school garden but a few months into it the kids decided they wanted their own neighborhood bodega. We are looking into it!
Right now we are working on figuring out how to get fresh fruit and vegetables to the low-income seniors at the Westward Ho. It always bothered me that they live across from a market that financially may not be feasible to patronize. We have a great team working to figure out logistics for that.
Any events coming up we should know about?
Gennaro Garcia, our September artist, is depicting poblano chiles. We will have an event to announce soon.
Carlos Rivas (mushrooms) and Rocco Menaguale (pecans) finish out 2013, we will have details soon about their release parties.
Our second annual Nopalpalooza is coming up November 9 at The Hive featuring our Wall of Nopal mural (30 artists!)...we kick off festivities September 14 with an urban bicycle prickly pear foraging trip ending with a beer and winemaking lecture at Old World Brewery.
Can you tell us about the current Haboob Busters and where to get them?
We have five currently: Prickly Palmer at Urban Beans (mint prickly pear Arnold Palmer), Robert Palmer (a "simply irresistible" cascara mint lemonade Arnold Palmer at Mud Dauber Coffee, Strawberry Mint Lemonade at Greater than Coffee, Arnold Palmer Salad at Bragg Factory Diner, and Sweet Tea Lemonade Meringue Pie at Beckett's Table. There will be a cocktail at Posh during Restaurant Week. These items benefit The Joy Bus and we welcome any chefs, baristas, bartenders who have a recipe with tea and lemon to participate.