Open your eyes to the world of foraging with our Edible Wild Plants Certificate courses. Each season a five to six week course is offered to teach you how to identify wild plants, what edible wild plants to look for, what part of the plant to harvest; how to harvest it, prepare it, and eat it. You will learn to identify over 200 species of edible wild plants from handling actual specimens and from seeing them in their natural environments.
The Edible Wild Plants Certificate courses will be taught both in a classroom and through site visits to various public and private locations to provide a thorough experience of the plants. To earn your certificate, you are required to take all four courses and pass four seasonal exams (using your notes and books) to demonstrate that you can identify edible (and poisonous) wild plants successfully. These courses will be offered each year, so if you miss one, you can take it the following year. Certificate courses are open to everyone, whether or not you’re pursuing the certificate.
Students prepare recipes during each course using edible wild plants to demonstrate their new knowledge and to share with classmates. A full year of recipes are compiled into a recipe book and given to each certificate recipient during the summer graduation ceremony.
The instructor, Patricia Armstrong, has a Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago in Ecology (Biology-Botany). She taught a multitude of nature classes at the Morton Arboretum for 16 years, plus Botany, Ecology, and Geology at the University of Wisconsin Extension, and Michigan State University’s Juneau Icefield Research Program in Alaska.
Pat’s knowledge and understanding of all things wild and free comes from a life-long personal and intimate relationship with nature that is passionate as well as scientific. She lives in a home she and her husband designed and built to fit into the natural ecosystems of northern Illinois. It is active and passive solar, energy-efficient, and landscaped with over 300 species of native trees, shrubs, prairie grasses and wildflowers, approximately 40% of which are edible. Pat is actively involved in living joyfully with nature. She runs a consulting firm, PRAIRIE SUN CONSULTANTS, to educate and assist others in appreciating and using native plants and wild edible plants in home landscaping.
Spring Course – Graze on Greens
Class will meet 6 Tuesday evenings from 7-9:30 pm at the Clow House and includes 2 field trips (April 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26, & June 2). Learn to identify and harvest the many tender greens and spring bulbs that abound primarily in the Aster, Carrot, Lily, Mint and Mustard families.
Summer Course – Feast on Flowers (July 21-Augus 25))
Class will meet 6 Tuesday evenings and includes 2 field trips. Learn to identify the many leafy herbs, flowers and fruits available in summer primarily in the Bean, Goosefoot, Mint and Rose families.
Fall Course – Sup on Shrubs (Sept 22 – Oct 13)
Class will meet 5 Tuesday evenings and includes 1 Saturday field trip. Learn to identify common plants in the Aster, Grass, Heath, Honeysuckle and Rose families that provide food to get us through the winter.
Winter Course – Taste the Trees (Jan & Feb)
Class will meet 4 Tuesday evenings from 7-9:30 pm at the Clow House with one Saturday or Sunday field trip, and will concentrate on edible trees such as the pines, oaks and walnuts.
Required Material: One book to identify edible wild plants
Students should have an inquiring mind and willingness to try new foods
Students are expected to attend every class: all absences must be made up
Students are expected to take notes on plants in class and participate in class activities including the field trip regardless of weather
Students are to prepare at least one wild plant and evaluate it as food
Students desiring to earn a Edible Wild Plant Certificate will have to pass an exam identifying wild plants
Price: $550 for the Edible Wild Plant Certificate (includes all 4 courses). Please make payment when you register. Each seasonal course may be taken and paid for individually, but the total cost will be $600.