Dandelions more than just a weed on Saturday | PostIndependent.com

Dandelions more than just a weed on Saturday

Gina Guarascio
Carbondale Correspondent
Dandelion Day organizer Soozie Lindbloom took time off from co-organizing last year and took the stage to join Matt Johnson and Boneyard. (Jane Bachrach photo)

Could it be that people were smarter 100 years ago than they are today?

In the early 1900s it was written that the dandelion was brought intentionally to the Roaring Fork Valley for food. Since then, the plant has been demonized as a “weed,” and a war has been waged.

But the Carbondale community has called a truce and now celebrates the flower once a year in a boisterous event called Dandelion Day, filled with music, food and earth-friendly fun. Dandelion Day takes place Saturday starting at 8 a.m. at Sopris Park with the flea market.

In the book “Carbondale Pioneers,” author Edna Sweet writes about how it just might have been the dandelion that was responsible for Carbondale’s reputation for world-class potatoes in the early part of the 20th century.

“Dad Weaver so longed for greens that he planted dandelions which spread so they took over the hay fields and compelled us to plow up our hay and plant potatoes,” she wrote about settlers living in Carbondale between 1879 and 1890. At the time, the settlers’ land was worth $50 an acre with alfalfa, but was promptly worth about $200 an acre with those fine potatoes.

“We learned that we could grow the finest potatoes in the United States,” wrote Sweet.

It seems the dandelion has always been underrated, but now it could be said that this little yellow bud is responsible for two of the town’s most unique celebrations ” Potato Day and Dandelion Day.

Started in 1999, after Carbondale officially adopted the dandelion as the town flower, Dandelion Day has blossomed as an event, much like the pesky ol’ weed itself.

“The dandelion was brought very intentionally to the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Scott Chaplin, one of the members of the town’s Environmental Board when the flower was adopted. “People used to get scurvy if they didn’t get enough vitamin C. It was brought here to provide nutrition.”

Chaplin said the dandelion has the highest concentration of Vitamin C of any plant, and is also great for detoxifying the liver and gallbladder.

Longtime Carbondale resident Doc Philip is known as Doctor Dandelion for his wealth of knowledge about the plant, as well as his refreshing dandelion beer that has been enjoyed locally for years.

Dandelion Day organizer Soozie Lindbloom not only eats the dandelions, but exclaimed, “I love ’em.” And she will be drinking them too, in a hearty wine she plans to make this year.

The dandelion became the proud symbol for town residents whose gardens were chemical free after an outcry over the city’s use of pesticides in local parks. The uproar brought a halt to the spraying and a growth of eco-friendly weed-control techniques.

“This event has sort of morphed into an all-around Earth Day celebration,” said Lindbloom, describing a day filled with earth-conscious vendors, an organic market and the ever popular flea market which urges people to reuse and reduce. Lindbloom and others are planning to use compostable everything so the activities will produce no trash. Couple that with the slow bike race and the magnificent non-motorized Parade of the Species and you’ve got yourself an ecologically sustainable good time.

Volunteers and earth-conscious vendors are still needed. Call Chris at 704-4115 for more information.

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