Attend a Wild Edibles Walk
When I began my wild foods journey about a decade ago, I attended several walks in Massachusetts led by longtime forager and teacher Russ Cohen. Russ gifted me my first taste of Autumn-olive fruit leather, introduced me to dozens of low-growing lawn plants with edible parts, and inspired me to dine more often on the wild. In those early years, I also attended weekend foraging classes taught by Arthur Haines (author of Ancestral Plants) of the Delta Institute and Mike Douglas of the Maine Primitive Skills School.
Much more than just a stroll through a field, these hands-on classes got me gathering, processing, and eating wild plants alongside other wild food enthusiasts. During those weekend-long courses, I gathered my first Wild Leeks, Ostrich Fern fiddleheads, and Sweet-flag rhizomes, helped harvest trays full of Dandelion taproots (pictured), and prepared herbal salves, infusions, and decoctions using (at least in part) wild-harvested ingredients.
Don’t get me wrong, reading books and watching videos of experienced foragers is a great way to learn. But, as with so many earth skills, the real magic happens when you go outside. If you’re new at foraging, or if you’re looking for new ideas, I recommend finding someone near you who offers walks. Many foragers (Russ Cohen and myself included) offer walks free of charge and love to pass on their knowledge.
Green Deane, of EatTheWeeds fame, maintains a list of foraging instructors on his website. If his list doesn’t lead you to a nearby forager, look up primitive skills schools in your area. Often they will have a wild foods enthusiast on staff.
Have you ever attended a foraging walk or talk? Share your experiences below.
–> Event Notice: I’m giving a free talk on foraging for wild edibles in Wells, ME on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.