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.