Knotweed is one of Pittsburgh’s most well known invasive species, taking over yards and gardens throughout the city’s neighborhoods. To help battle the weed, GTECH Strategies created the Knots on Lots program with catalytic funding from a Sprout Fund Seed Award.

The program works to contain the spread of knotweed by harvesting the pesky plant as a resource for making paper. But last night, GTECH partnered with Chef Chad Townsend of Salt of the Earth to show off another use for the weed at Bar Marco: as an ingredient for delicious dishes. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Diana Nelson Jones spoke to Chef Chad as he prepared for the event.

“Knot Your Typ­i­cal No Menu Mon­day” at Bar Marco raised money for GTECH’s va­cant land use pro­gram and served as an op­por­tu­nity to show the rea­sons for cut­ting knot­weed other than to get rid of it. At­tend­ees sam­pled as­par­a­gus and knot­weed with let­tuce, chicken with knot­weed broth, pork ter­rine with knot­weed jelly and ap­ple and knot­weed pie. Be­cause it is June, the knot­weed isn’‍t as tender as it is in April.

“I treat it very ag­gres­sively,” mostly with sugar, Mr. Townsend said. “It’s in the rhu­barb fam­ily and de­vel­ops a high acid con­tent. You couldn’‍t pos­si­bly eat the amount of knot­weed we have. It is free food but not a wind­fall, be­cause it’s very la­bor in­ten­sive and re­quires long cook­ing times.”

Okay, so it might not be the next Goji berry, but it’s got people thinking about how to deal with complex land issues in innovative ways.

As Megan Zeigler, GTECH’s se­nior proj­ect man­ager, pointed out, if you miss it when it’s tender, you can still eat it with much doc­tor­ing, and you can make pa­per out of it. If you’‍re late to that party, you can make bee houses out of it; this is an­other proj­ect GTECH is dis­cuss­ing with Chatham Univer­sity.

Ul­ti­mately, you can burn it and make bio-char to amend soil. The use of a nui­sance plant to im­prove soil is one of life’‍s sweet iro­nies. It’s a thrill to learn of so many uses and that peo­ple are sup­port­ing ef­forts to im­prove those uses.

Read the whole story on the Post-Gazette website, and learn more about GTECH Strategies and their efforts to grow and improve the city through energy and community health with projects like Knots on Lots, ReFuel PGH and ReClaim.