Date & Time: Saturday, July 15, 0900 – 1600
Storm Day: Note that the course will take place rain or shine, but in the event of seriously stormy weather, the course will take place the following Saturday at the same time. We will notify students in the event of a storm day.
Cost: $60 per person (If paid on site)
Pre-Register Rate: $50 (Please note, we cannot hold nor guarantee places without pre-registration.)
Ages: Adults and youth to age 12 (youth must be accompanied by a guardian)
Reserve Place: $25
Email to register. Directions will be provided to registrants.
Course Description: Most people know there are wild foods in the meadows and woods, but they don’t know how to identify them. Even fewer know how to harvest and use them. Some are even afraid of them. According to David Arora, author of Mushrooms Demystified: “There are few things that strike as much fear in your average [person] as the mere mention of wild mushrooms . . . [But] once you know what to look for, it’s about as difficult to tell a deadly Amanita from a savory chanterelle as it is a lima bean from an artichoke.” This applies to wild plants, as well. If you know what to look for, Nature provides abundantly and the Maritime provinces are blessed with a surfeit of wild edible foods. In fact, our family resides on a semi-remote wooded homestead and as much as 25% of our food is foraged from the wild meadows and forests. And this is a skill you can learn, too.
There is no “perfect time” to pursue wild foods. Some are best in spring, others midsummer, still others far into autumn. Some wild foods are even to be found in winter. This course will take place in middle summer which provides the advantages that many wild plants will have reached their mature form for identification purposes, some wild plants are best at or near maturity (such as mint, wild carrot and lamb’s quarter), and some plants with desirable seeds will be going to seed, i.e., dock. Many fruiting plants will be past their blossom stage and growing fruit, giving students a chance to see the form of the unripe fruit so they may mark the plant for later use. Participants will learn to identify, harvest and use a number of wild Maritime edible foods, including some of the easier-to-identify mushrooms, cattails and various wild herbs and berries. Of special interest will be cattails, wild mint, forest shamrock, sumac, wild cherry, Japanese knotweed, josta, daylilies and medicinal lichens.
One of the most common mistakes foragers make is not knowing when to harvest or how to make use of wild foods, so we will cover the full lore of each plant and/or fungus so the new forager can make best use of them. We will also look at testing foods for edibility and reaction, and how to render use-resistant plants (such as cattails) edible.
Course Requirements: Dress appropriately for warm weather, but it is advised you bring a day pack with rain gear and a sweater as the weather in these parts is fickle. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Some sort of hiking boot is strongly advised; this is rough country. Also, participants should bring a stout knife, folding or straight blade, as well as lunch and snacks. Use hats, sunscreen and bug spray according to personal need, though in July biting insects are rarely much of a problem. For your own safety, please do not wear shorts or you will get scratched up as we hike through meadows full of wild rose shrubs and bramble berry canes.
We will hike three to six miles over the course of the day to study forage on location. There will be a lunch break at a comfortable base camp and two rest periods, so the pace will be leisurely. Much of the terrain is meadow or dirt road, but there are areas we’ll go into the woods and the terrain is rough. Students must be moderately fit and able to handle rough ground. If you would like to attend but avoid the rough ground, you may wait at the base camp during that portion of the course, which takes from one to two hours.
Your teacher: Author and naturalist, Cliff Seruntine, is a certified psychotherapist, shaman, horseman, and fiddler. He is also a veteran of some of the most rugged wilderness on Earth–the Alaskan bush–where he dwelt at a remote cabin for many years. Cliff now resides on a homestead in the Nova Scotia highlands and brings a polymath, spiritual perspective to Nature experiences and decades of wilderness living know-how to his courses.