Into a sustainable Future

Wild Edibles Walk with KRUUT

Herbalists | Berlin

„Soujourn in untouched nature is the ultimate source of energy for us.“

Being born and raised in Berlin in the 80s and 90s, I vividly remember the travels I took with my parents, leaving Berlin from this airport.
An airport in the middle of the city, one of the first commercial airports of Germany and once (1941) the biggest building in the world.

Many things have changed since then and after Tempelhof closed in 2008 for good, the area became one of the biggest inner city parks instead; a place for leisure for Berliners and tourists alike. 

 

And while many use the former airfield for their daily run or ride, to gather with friends and family or to visit or work at one of the many gardening plots that came to life here, me and a dozen other curious people are waiting to meet with „KRUUT“, a passion-led small company, unveiling another hidden quality of the „Tempelhofer Feld“:

We’re about to discover wild local plant species, that have
(re-)colonized the land. Among many herbs, shrubs and roses, we’ll also encounter many weeds, that have been fiercely fought off in most private gardens for decades, urban humans only slowly beginning to fathom their true qualities.

„KRUUT“ is Low German for herb and back in the day there was no word for weeds. From more than 2.000 edible „kruuts“ we only use about 40-50 nowadays.

Annika & Thorben, the founders of KRUUT, chose this distinct name, as both connect it to memories from their own childhood. 

 

And it was from the notes of Thorbens grandfather, a master gardener owning a garden full of herbs and a cellar filled with tinctures, that their idea was born:
To bring back long forgotten knowledge, to revive our regard for the powerful nature around us and maybe even to rescue our deep connection to her.

Two core values stand firmly behind their work: Time and dedication.

On this hot and sunny day at the peak of a dry Berlin summer I’ll be walking thousands of steps through these fields – once a symbol for traveling the world – just to realize that all we really need is one step back, a time travel to the wisdom of our ancestors.

Next to the airstrips we walk on winding paths and cross fields of knee-high grasses and wildflowers. On the typical sandy Berlin soil we immerse ourselves into the local flora and fauna, wilderness everywhere.

I’m surprised by diversity and quantity of the plants. Wild flowers and herbs have never been cultivated, are thus especially tough and resilient. Small powerhouses, that manage to defy even these urban areas and grow not only in natural forests and meadows, but emerge from between paving stones. And thanks to their resilience, we can find them all year round.

Annika, a trained herbalist, points out different plants, tells us how to clearly identify them and shares her knowledge about their precious contents and healing properties.

She can’t grasp, that we all know where to find so called superfoods from overseas in our supermarket shelfs, but would pass on these local treasures without noticing! The stinging nettle for example contains 10 times the amount of Vitamin C a lemon offers, but almost no-one knows, that it can not only be drank as a tea, but cooked like spinach as well!

As this is still a former airport, we can’t consume any of the plants we find here, as the soil is highly contaminated. But some stems and petals will find their way to dry between pages or to end up in a classic Herbarium, a personal book of plant wisdom.

Some participants collect notes with pen and paper – another step back in time.

While some joggers pass in the distance, our eyes stay earthbound and discover precious leaves and buds: Mullein, Ribwort (which contains mucilage, tannins and Aucubin and can help with viral and bacterial issues, as well as serve as a healing plaster on insect bites) and Wild Carrot, Dandelion, Chicory and Red Clover (its petals taste sweet, the leaves remind of peas and it can help with digestive problems).

There is more: St. John’s Wort helps against gloomy moods, Elderberry is antipyretic, highly undervalued Daisies taste fantastic on a piece of bread with butter – and Yarrow (or „eyebrow of Venus“ due to the shape of their leaves) is anti-inflammatory and basically an allrounder. But careful: Yarrow has some poisonous Doppelgängers like Hemlock!

Marlie, a former street dog from sicily turned into „Germany’s first herbal tracking dog“, is running through the grasses, her oat coloured fur shimmering golden. A wild child has found its wild pack…

More notes about Woodruff, Goutweed and Ground Ivy, Chickweed and Sorrel (anti-inflammatory), Hollyhock and Lungwort are added to my collection and as the sunlight forces me to squint, suddenly picnic blankets appear on the ground, as we turn around the corner of a small grove: Perfect time for a nice wild snack in the shade!

 

Secretly Thorben had disappeared from the group and is now handing out little paper bags with tasty treats by health advisor Anika Jessen: Sweet meets savoury in a Polenta Goutweed Muffin, in Chocolate Energy Balls with Ground Ivy and delicious Sorrel Hummus. The thirst is quenched with a Wild Herb Lemonade, made from Apple Juice, Meadowsweet and KRUUTs very own oxymel „Wohl“. 

We are learning with all senses and taste is very probably the most long-lasting. Especially with tastes, that have long been forgotten.

While some are mixing their own tinctures under Annikas guidance, I’m having a little chat with Burkhard Bohne, who is attending today as a co-host. Burkhard is well a well known gardener with special knowledge of medical plants, a reiki master and author of gardening books like „The Message of Plants“.

I’ve known him before from online-courses and we share our thoughts on our connection to nature, the intuition and appreciation with which we can look at all living things and how to share those valuable messages with others…

Walking home I pass some wild rose bushes like those, that grow in my own garden. They are in full bloom and buzzing with insects. Soon the blossoms will fall and rose hips will appear instead of flowers.

And when the first frosty nights arrive and even the last autumn leaves have fallen, they will radiate with their intense red colour and I will negotiate with myself, wether to harvest them for all those vitamins they offer or leave them for the winter birds.

How wild things do us well – What KRUUT does:

Annika & Thorben found a way to bring this proven knowledge and the power of wild herbs back into our daily lifes:

Just like the ancient Greeks and Thorbens grandfather, they are now producing their own oxymels. Everything is produced by hand, without additives or enhancers, made from regional superfoods by local farmers, working organically and certified.

The recipes might sound simple, but the oxymels need time and a selection of the right ingrediences: Acacia honey, apple vinegar and organic wild plants. The vinegar extracts the nutrients and honey works as a preserving agent, while adding its own qualities, like kalium and magnesium. It takes a few weeks and regular stiring, before the herbs are strained and the precious tincture is ready.

There are varieties for better digestion, to support the immune system or calm the mind before going to bed. Rich in bitter compounds, tannins, vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients, they complement our nutrition without much effort.

 

KRUUT is collaborating with social institutions and bottling their oxymels in recycled apothecary bottles. 

Their oxymels are sold in organic supermarkets or in their own online shop, where they also offer incenses (produced by experienced herbal healers from South Germany), extracted plant powders and useful accessories. On their website they share recipes and their knowledge about herbs and rituals, as well as interviews with experts. For the next few years they wish to establish a community of like minded people, to share and learn about old wisdom and to reconnect to oneself and nature. And as a post pandemic silver lining there might be an offline retreat in the making. With dedication and time.

 

kruut.de

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