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January 15
1875 - Henry Mayo Newhall buys western half of the Santa Clarita Valley for $2 an acre [story]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelSustainability, one of the new  buzz words we all love to throw around, is not a new concept. The Native Americans practiced sustainability as a way of life. They hunted, gathered and farmed, but they didn’t pillage the land to the point that nothing was left. Thus, every year there were ample amounts of grains, fish, game and water. They traded with their neighbors, as well.

Having studied the native plants that grow in our local habitat, I could get by, if I had to, on what nature supplies. I often wonder: If we had a major disaster, how many people could do that? What would happen after people pillaged and looted what they could? If there were nothing else “commercial” on the horizon, who would survive?

It would be a good thing if people looked back to their roots a bit, to find out what edible plants live in the open spaces. People should learn what an Egyptian well is, and how to make one, and how to make a debris shelter. These simple things could save your family.

Buckwheat groats

Buckwheat groats

The Native Americans didn’t have grocery stores. They managed just fine. Some of the local ingredients they used that can be found in our valley include things like acorns, camas bulbs, wild onions, stinging nettle, California buckwheat, slender oats, barley, cheese-weed, thistle seeds, sunflower seeds, bracken ferns, wild gooseberries, currants, blackberries, rose hips and much more.

Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout

If you can make a fishhook out of bone, you could add fish to your native diet, as well. I’ll bet you didn’t even know we have edible fish nearby. We also have a variety of game birds and venison right here in Santa Clarita. There is so much out there that is being ignored as a food source because the supermarket is easier.

I am not advocating that you go out to Towsley Canyon and bag a deer. In fact, if you did that, you would be arrested. I am just hoping you will become aware of your surroundings. Be able to identify edible plants. And think about the “what if” scenario.

Rose hips

Rose hips

We are lucky America is so stable and we are not in the middle of an area like Iraq. But looking at the threats of ISIL, there is a chance that in our lifetime, something could happen in one of our major cities that might cause us to disperse into an uninhabited area, even for a short time. Being a little bit prepared wouldn’t hurt.

If you were here during our last big earthquake, you might remember grocery stores were closed and there was no heat, electricity or phone service. Due to landslides, inoperable gates and freeway closures, my neighborhood was shut off for a week. We had no water or other supplies. We had to share with neighbors, purify water, and be inventive with canned foods and things we could gather from the wild. We were actually able to make an Indian pudding on the barbecue with dry ingredients from the pantry, wild currants and wild blackberries. Our neighborhood was able to turn the disaster into an adventure.

 

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Francisca says:

    Thanks for posting this Dianne! Good reading…I actually had to google “ISIL” to make sure it was aka “ISIS” LOL! Good education for me!

    • SCVNews.com says:

      The White House uses ISIL so we use ISIL until such time as The Associated Press decides on a standard.

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