Edible Campus

Botanist George Ellmore discovers hidden culinary delights tucked away amid the grass

Most of us grab our produce at the supermarket, from stacks of freshly misted greens or towers of carrots. Some tend backyard gardens, and others sign up for farm shares. And then there’s George Ellmore, an associate professor of biology and expert botanist, who shops for all the fixings for a tasty salad or stir fry along untrimmed sidewalks or in the shade of a mailbox.

To show off this kitchen garden hidden in plain sight, Ellmore leads popular tours around the Medford/Somerville campus, in which students and community members get to sample a variety of surprising treats during different seasons of the year. Highlights including humble-looking weeds that taste similar to—or even rival—such familiar favorites as spinach, carrots and radishes.

Hillsides too steep for lawnmowers and corners hidden from weedwackers have become “half-wild places,” Ellmore says, “little places of discovery on the Tufts campus.”

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