Since I began learning about edible wild plants and herbs three years ago, it has been a joy to walk around and “see” all of the food and herbs growing everywhere, in cracks in the sidewalks, in yards, along trails, in forests. At first, most of my knowledge was applied to designing edible landscapes, but now I’m fully enjoying feeding myself from my yard and community. I take walks every day to notice the abundance around me, harvest where appropriate, process, and enjoy. Just this week, I have been enjoying a variety of teas (peppermint, pine needle, lemon balm, dandelion root, and comfrey leaf), stinging nettle infusions, “weed” pesto that I froze this fall, hazelnuts, and grape juice canned this summer. Each year, my “wild” plant diet expands, and with it a deepening connection and appreciation of the natural world.
For those of you who have had at least one experience foraging wild food, you understand how it changes your vision. When walking, biking, and driving your eyes are now drawn to finding food amongst the plants and trees. It is like a whole new world has opened up and invited you in. You find yourself taking photos and asking friends with more experience, “Can I eat this?” Facebook has groups where people post photos of their discoveries and ask “friends” to help them id the plant and if what they found is edible. Foraging is like hunting for hidden treasures, but without the tools the treasures remain hidden.
You can obtain the tools to find these hidden treasures by taking Pat Armstrong’s Edible Wild Plants courses. Pat will teach you the basics of plant identification and about the common edible plant families in the seasonal Introduction to Plant Identification classes. Once you have basic plant id skills, you can advance to the seasonal courses where you will learn about the seasonal edible wild plants to be discovered in our area. Each course focuses on about 70 different plants that grow in our biome and can be harvested during that season. Pat will teach you how to identify the plants, what part to harvest, when to harvest, how to prepare the harvest, and because each class includes samplings, you can experience the taste of a few.
Many of us garden and grow annual fruits and vegetables, and I hope some of you are growing perennial fruits and vegetables, but are you growing nuts? If you are not, then take Pat Armstrong’s Local Fall Nuts class this Thursday, October 3rd to learn how to identify the nut trees in your area. She will have nuts to sample and will share how Native Americans prepared flour from acorns.
Fall is the time to harvest nuts, and this class will prepare you to forage and process them. Nuts supply our bodies with protein, healthy fats, anti-oxidants, and energy. They are a great travel food and can be made into gluten free flours, milks, and butters; used as breading, or in recipes and so much more.
Nuts can only be harvested this time of year, so take this opportunity.
The Resiliency Institute offers evening and weekend classes, workshops, and certification courses. Classes are taught by knowledgeable and experienced regional instructors with class sizes ranging from 6 -30 attendees. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will find a class that is right for you.
Most education courses, unless otherwise noted, are taught at the Clow Education Center on The Conservation Foundation’s McDonald Farm at 10S404 Knoch Knolls Road in Naperville, IL.
The word “permaculture” was coined and popularized in the mid 70′s by David Holmgren, a young Australian ecologist, and his associate / professor, Bill Mollison. It is a contraction of “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture.”
Permaculture is a design system based on observing nature for developing ecological landscapes, lifestyles and communities. “Permaculture is not a discipline in itself but rather a design approach based on connecting different disciplines, strategies, and techniques.” (Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden)
Permaculture Design Certification
The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course is a training program that utilizes the teachings of Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Design System. The goal is to achieve a basic working understanding in ecologically-based planning, site design and management. A PDC provides a comprehensive introduction to Permaculture principles, applications and design practices as first set out by Permaculture founder, Bill Mollison. The PDC meets a common international standard as a foundational course for Permaculture practitioners and teachers. At The Resiliency Institute, the course is taught by Peter Bane, Rhonda Baird, & Keith Johnson over 3 extended weekends for a total of 11 days and 88 hrs.
Edible Wild Plants Certification
Open your eyes to the world of foraging with our Edible Wild Plants Certificate. Each season a five to six week course is offered to teach you how to identify 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 (Taste the Trees, Graze on Greens, Feast on Flowers, & Sup on Shrubs) are taught both in a classroom and through site visits to various public and private locations to provide a comprehensive 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 annual graduation ceremony.
Reskilling is learning the skills we need to become self-sufficient and resilient as individuals and communities during a time of economic and climatic change. These skills span the spectrum of land management; food production, preservation and preparation; sustainable living; community building; water management; renewable energy; and ecological building. Classes can be viewed by category or date on our course calendar.