Kudzu Camp is a three-day event focused on harvesting and processing kudzu roots as well as exploring various other exciting uses of the vigorous vine.
The workshop takes place in Sylva from March 16th to March 18th.
There is no cost for the workshop, but a freewill donation is invited. This attitude of reciprocity also guides the content of this workshop: “Rather than malign kudzu – a plant that was at one point widely regarded as the ‘savior of the South’ for its impressive erosion controlling capacities – we’re asking ‘What does the plant have to teach us? Is it offering us something we haven’t been paying attention to?’” says Justin Holt, co-organizer of the event along with Zev Friedman.
Eight years into their study and explorations of kudzu, Friedman and Holt are still finding that the plant has quite a lot to offer. “We’re another year deep into the learning and healing and growing that can come with this incredible plant, which has so much to teach us about the net of relationships between plants, global ecosystem change, human nutrition and medicine and other material needs, and pragmatic economics”, says Friedman.
Held in late winter each year, Kudzu Root Camp’s ‘experimental skill-share’ format focuses on training participants how to harvest roots and extract the starch, (referred to as ‘kuzu’ in Japanese cuisine) as well as how to cook with and use kuzu medicinally. Participants also learn about harvest and use of the various types of vine fibers, as well as ecological management strategies within a permaculture context, and other aspects of the plant and its use. Kuzu-based dishes are served throughout the workshop, made with starch processed at the previous year’s gathering. A couple perennial favorites are Maple Hickory Nut Kuzu Pudding and Kuzu Matcha Mochi.
A number of enthusiastic Kudzu Camp participants (kudzu converts) have made the event an annual tradition and are initiating a kudzu co-operative to make fresh roots available to herbalists throughout the country. The years spent learning about traditional and contemporary uses of the plant have the co-op optimistic that there is real economic value in this pervasive invasive species. More information about the kudzu root sale can be found on their website: kudzuculture.net