Awakening the Forager

Wild Plant IDSince 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.

McDowell shrub layer
Taking a walk in the woods, or even around your neighborhood, takes on a whole new meaning when your intention is to forage. There is a transformation in how you look at the environment when the landscape is no longer just window dressing, but a source of nourishment. Now the tree that you have passed by hundreds of times with barely a glance becomes meaningful - you notice it and eagerly await its fruit.


Knowing what plants to look for when, finding them around you, then knowing what to harvest, how to process and prepare it, takes some practice, but Pat Armstrong will teach you all of this in the Edible Wild Plants Certificate course. You'll learn 200 edible wild plants that grow in our bioregion through classroom study, two-hour plant walks, and by eating and preparing recipes with them every class.

There are so many reasons to learn how to identify edible wild plants:

Interest in foragingRed Currants

Connecting with nature

Expanding your knowledge of edible plants for landscaping, permaculture, or ecological restoration

Wilderness survival


Learning plant identification

Leading plant walks

"Harvesting wild food is the oldest and most basic subsistence activity of humankind, but today we live in a world where these skills are almost lost. Foraging is the missing link in modern civilized cultures - it is this direct physical connection, in the form of sustenance, which brings us to our deepest appreciation and understanding of the natural world."
~Sam Thayer


Edible Wild Plants Pat SpringSo devote the time this year to learn edible wild plants from an instructor who has been eating this way her whole life. 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.

Click here to read all of the details about the upcoming Edible Wild Plants Certification course.

Testimonials from Edible Wild Plant Certificate graduates

"For those who have not spent much time out in nature, these classes will open a whole new world you didn’t know existed.  For those who have, these classes will greatly increase your appreciation and connection with nature. The instructor Pat, is your tour guide for this journey.  She is a local expert and freely shares all the knowledge and wisdom she has accumulated over the years.  I think there should be cautions or warning signs on these classes. Caution: May be prone to identify wild edibles while driving. Caution: May start bringing strange things home for family dinner.  Caution:  may start seeing health improve as a result of eating wild edibles!
To your wild journeys!" 
  ~ Ellyn Schmitz

"I had some previous foraging experience prior to signing up for the wild edibles certificate program and was amazed to learn the wide variety of plants and trees we can use for food. Pat Armstrong is a gifted teacher and is passionate about wild foods and enjoying nature’s abundance. We learned the edible parts of each plant, when to harvest and how to best prepare them. Pat would often include interesting ethnobotanical information on the uses of plants as food and medicine throughout history."        ~ Lisa Stuart

"I am currently working on my Edible Wild Plants Certificate at TRI. The classes have opened up another way for me to understand and relate to nature. Pat Armstrong not only brings a depth of knowledge but a lifetime of commitment to living sustainably to her classes. Since taking the classes I have incorporated several nutritious wild edible plants into my diet and have been able to spark an interest in edible plant identification in my grandson. Now when we go on vacation or take a walk in the woods we recognize and appreciate the worth of plants we used to just walk by. And, where allowable, we harvest and enjoy them!"     ~ Jean Ruffin