Camas - Camassia quamash ($1.25 per bulb)
Camassia quamash, or Camas, is native to the West Coast of North America, where it was an important source of food for Natives peoples. It is easily grown throughout most of the continent. It does very well here in Eastern Ontario, and the bulbs are also produced and sold in Europe as ornamental plants. Ours were originally obtained from several sources in British Columbia and from commercial growers in Ontario, and are now grown organically on our farm. Camas produces beautiful flowers, similar to hyacinths (one of its common names is wild hyacinth), and spreads easily by bulb division and abundant seeds. In the wild, it can colonize entire meadows. The Camas prairies of the United States were named after the plant. We sell for $1.25 per bulb, available August-October.
Cultivation: Full sun, rich soil, preferably moist. A spring flower, the leaves die back mid-summer and the bulbs go dormant, at which point they can be gathered, divided, replanted, along with some or all of the seeds. It grows as easily as daffodils or hyacinths, with the added bonus that they can produce a delicious meal!
Food preparation: The traditional way Native Americans prepared Camas was pit-cooking, something not easily reproduced. Rich in inulin, it is not the easiest tuber to cook (we're still looking for the perfect recipe), but its rich history and exceptional potential make it well worth looking. Recipes for pit cooking can still be found online: http://camosun.ca/ccr/news/2008/july/camas-harvest.html