This weekend, the Contemporary Art Gallery hosted a special two-day preservation workshop with Burrard Marina Field House Artist-in-Residence Keg de Souza. Saturday’s session began with a discussion and guided walk around the Burrard Marina with local Indigenous Herbalist Lori Snyder. Focusing on the blackberry as a way to enter into a discussion of invasive, introduced and native species, Lori described the myriad uses and health benefits of the blackberry bush. From berry to root, the blackberry is an amazingly versatile and useful plant. A member of the rose family, blackberry leaves can be steeped as a tea for digestive wellness, clearing skin blemishes and rashes, and soothing sore throats.
Participants foraged for blackberries on the banks and pathways around the Fieldhouse, stopping to investigate other plants that grow up and around the blackberry, including St. John’s Wort and Morning Glory. Lori’s knowledge of native foods and urban foraging was inspirational, promoting natural remedies and considering the many natural resources that surround our urban landscape.
Day two we were joined by Lori’s partner and master jam-maker Steve Snyder to transform the foraged berries into delicious homemade jam. Steve discussed methods of making jam, following the basic recipes provided by canning supply company Bernardin, ingredients and ratios for berries, sugar and pectin, and sterilizing and canning the jam. As the jam simmered, participants were invited to join a discussion with Keg de Souza, generating an experimental map of the dialogue relating to local foods, the concept of preservation, and the blackberry as metaphor for the continuing effects of colonization in our city. Foraging, whether in urban or natural settings, raises concerns of sustainability, harvesting with respect, and acknowledging other animals who share our resources.
The smell of warm blackberries wafted off the balcony and into the Marina, drawing attention from passers-by. As the workshop drew to a close, we canned over 60 jars of jam, the participants sharing the harvest.