Community Through Kudzu: An Educational Greenway Maintenance Initiative

Join Kudzu Culture, Montford Neighborhood Association, Urban Forest Alliance, and City of Asheville Parks and Recreation in this collaborative and educational maintenance initiative. We will hear the story of kudzu, identify and remove root crowns, and taste kudzu treats and tea.

Become an ecological steward in your community!

Bring (if you have, but not necessary):

  • Work gloves
  • Hand-digging tools
  • Mattocks
  • Tarps
  • Buckets

*** Please wear warm clothes/shoes, and bring a mask for indoor portion of workshop and maintain social distance in outdoor spaces. ***

This workshop is free to the public and no registration is required.

Email LB at kudzuculture@gmail.com with any questions

VINE to CLOTH Research Camp

August 21-22, 2021 in Marshall, North Carolina

Kudzu Culture + Fiberhouse Collective are partnering for an experimental, collaborative gathering of artists, foresters, farmers and makers. We will learn the traditional methods of kudzu vine fiber processing and develop new methods together.

August 21-22, 10am – 4pm daily; join us on both days, or one, with the option to camp overnight at the site in Marshall, NC.

Please fill out this form https://forms.gle/MoWYmEb58eoST3Nq6 or email kudzuculture@gmail.com to register.

Suggested donation $50; no one turned away!

Kudzu root and Covid-19

Last week, on the same day the World Health Organization declared the spread of Covid-19 a global pandemic, the Kudzu Culture team was unpacking our cars and trucks among scurrying groundhogs and blooming daffodils at our 9th annual Kudzu Root Camp.

Dissonant as it felt to be digging roots on a quiet hillside while the whole human world was plunging into crisis, it turns out we’re in just the right place for this moment: very recent research being carried out in China, as well as recommendations from a prominent Western herbal researcher, are pointing to none other than kudzu root as a key ingredient in herbal preparations for treating Covid-19.

Below are links to some of this recently emerging information on kudzu and Covid-19 and related research (Some of the links are to non-English sources – if you’re using Chrome, you should be prompted with an option to translate. If not, you can try to right-click the page and look for the ‘translate’ option). We’ll update this post with more links as we come across them.

 

Kudzu Root Camp 2020

Kudzu Culture’s 9th annual Kudzu Root Camp will be focused on process R&D and cooperative business development. We intend to scale up our processing and increase our capacity by bringing other harvesters and workers into the group. Our aim is to train workers in harvesting and processing and to develop a business which will purchase raw kudzu materials from these workers and possibly employ them in processing and marketing products.

***We are seeking participants who are interested in collaborating with Kudzu Culture in this way. We are still in the early stages of developing the business and are not making any promises about how it will grow. If you decide to participate in Kudzu Camp, you will receive in-depth education and training in kudzu harvesting, processing and use. In exchange, we request that you agree to explore collaboration with us as we move forward. ***

We believe it’s possible in the near future to provide living-wage, seasonal work for several, perhaps dozens, of kudzu harvesters and processors. We have been working on customer discovery, product development, processing improvements, and all the other aspects of business development necessary for this to materialize. This year, one of our goals is to begin training the work force that will be at the heart of a thriving, regenerative kudzu economy in the Southeast region. Our vision is that this work will give communities the keys to unlock kudzu as the significant, abundant resource it is (for food, medicine, fiber, and much more), while bringing kudzu into ecological balance (control via harvest, opportunities for reforestation), and providing opportunities for income.

If that excites you and you’re interested in playing along, please fill out this form. We’ll follow up with you soon via email about the next steps.

If you have been a participant in past Kudzu Root Camps and are interested in collaborating, please drop us a line.

If you have questions about the form and process, please email us at KudzuCulture@gmail.com

Kudzu R&D Camp!

This year, we did our 8th annual Kudzu Root Camp a little differently. Instead of including an educational workshop in with the harvesting, processing, and celebrating of kudzu, we focused on research and development of our processes, mechanizing some steps and quantifying inputs and yields. And develop the processes we did! We were able to clean, shred, and rinse the starches out of the roots all using cheap and widely available electric tools. We’ll report back soon in more detail and share some photos.

Besides making leaps and bounds in our efficiency, we also got a better sense of the commercial viability of a variety of kudzu products we’ve been working with, and a sense of the potential. We measures out a 150 sq. ft. area and tracked the root yield from this section of the patch: it came out to about 300lbs of roots. That’s 2 lbs per square foot!

You can find some photos and follow a bit of what we’re up to on our Instagram: @kudzuco_op

Kudzu Fiber Workshop – Saturday, July 21, 9am – 6pm

kudzu fiber cardboard loom 2018

Our newly forming Kudzu Collective and Local Cloth are excited to facilitate a workshop that explores the ancient processes of harvesting, cooking, retting, and rinsing kudzu vine fiber. This lustrous, dynamic fiber has been used for thousands of years in various parts of Asia to make rope, cloth, and paper. Kudzu is so abundant in our bioregion, and the Kudzu Collective is committed to promoting this culture of use. Join us in exploring the vast story kudzu has to tell us, and bring your ideas of how its fibers can be used for fiber art!

 Instructors Justin Holt, Zev Friedman, and Lauren Bacchus, along with kudzu co-conspirators, will guide workshop participants in hands-on kudzu vine processing throughout the morning. We will begin the day harvesting in a nearby urban kudzu patch, and then work together to rinse already retted fiber (retted means “rotted,” so prepare for a stink!). Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and a little messy.

During lunchtime we will hear the story of kudzu, an intriguing tale of many layers, and introduce the group to the culinary and medicinal benefits of kudzu root starch, another valuable co-product of this useful plant. Participants will also get to try samples of dishes crafted with our own, locally made kudzu starch!

Throughout the afternoon, we will then work with processed kudzu fibers to explore how the material responds to various manipulations. Pre-processed fibers will be provided for participants to make a woven bookmark or bracelet on a d.i.y. cardboard loom. Feel free to bring a small loom or other spinning and weaving equipment to experiment with. Additional pre-processed fibers will be available for purchase.

 Don’t miss this unique workshop that encompasses ecology, sustainability, anthropology, fiber art, and so much more!

 Cost: $50

Date: Saturday, July 21

Hours: 9am – 6pm (lunch and Story of Kudzu 12:30 – 2pm)

Instructions for Participants: Please pack a lunch, bring clothes that can get a little wet and messy, hand pruners if you have them, gloves, hat/sunscreen/water bottle. Tea, coffee, and light snacks will be provided.

Register here at Local Cloth’s website

Kudzu Root Camp 2018

Over the course of Kudzu Root Camp, we had 27 people come through and dig, clean, chop, pound, rinse, learn about, marvel at, admire, cook and eat kudzu. We dug about 315 lbs from about 1000 square feet of earth.

I’m feeling deep rooted gratitude for everyone who joined us, pitched in, and helped pull together another successful gathering, and also for kudzu, who every year draws me deeper into love with the mystery and power of the plant world.

We hope to give a more in-depth report from the patch. For now, here are some photos of the fun.

-JH

 

Fresh Kudzu Roots for Sale

Locally-harvested, fresh Kudzu Root (Ge-Gen) available to herbalists in late winter 2018

Kudzu, the ‘vine that ate the South’, formerly known as the ‘miracle vine’ that saved that same region’s rapidly eroding slopes after a century of deforestation and intensive annual agriculture, is truly a multi-faceted plant. The entire plant offers itself to human use: from its rapidly growing, succulent tips down to its deep, bulbous, starchy roots, kudzu can be harvested for food, fiber, medicine, fodder, and fuel.

In its native Asia, kudzu has been put to use for many centuries, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The root is known to practitioners of TCM as Ge-Gen and is used to treat fever, thirst, headache, pain due to high blood pressure, allergies, migraines, diarrhea, alcoholism, and angina (www.uofmhealth.org).

Active constituents of kudzu include daidzin, daidzein, puerarin, genistin, genistein, tectorigenin, glycitin, tectoridin, 6″-O-xylosyltectoridin, 6″-O-xyloglycitin, biochanin A, and spinasterol (www.sigmaaldrich.com).

We are offering fresh kudzu roots, harvested in Sylva, NC from soils free of environmental pollutants. Pre-order roots now for shipping or local pick-up in March, 2018.  Fresh, cleaned roots are $7/lb., $5/lb for 10 or more lbs. Send us an email at KudzuCulture@gmail.com for more info and to order.

We’ll be digging roots during our annual Kudzu Root Camp, March 16-18. See here for details about how to join in the fun.