Did you know that when you’re out for a walk or hike, you’re surrounded by edible food? And if you don’t know what you can and can not eat, this may be your chance to find out.
Heather Mountain Lodge is hosting a Wild Food Foraging event where guests can spend the day out on a guided foraging tour, then eat a meal prepared with the food they picked themselves.
Julie Walker of Full Circle Adventures has been eating wild growing food for decades, and is happy to see the trend growing.
“I’ve been a hiking guide for 20 plus years, and I was always interested in natural history,” said Walker, who has been hosting the foraging tour at Heather Mountain for three years now. “Then one day I crossed the line and started eating dandelion stems.”
Things progressed from there, and now Walker does edible plant walks and forage feasts with companies, individuals and groups, as well as schools. She has even taken some chefs out to find wild plants that can be incorporated into their seasonal menus.
“There’s some really great things you can make with wild plants,” said Walker.
For the Heather Mountain event, Walker expects to be picking lots of fireweed, which makes great tea, as well as lots of roots, berries and bark.
“The event is later in the year than usual, so we won’t be finding a lot of the leafy greens. But we’ll definitely have a lot of other edibles to gather,” she said.
“I’d also like to try some new things, like roasting some seeds.”
It may seem like a simple task, to wander around the woods and pick plants. But Walker says it can be a very difficult thing to identify the differences between similar plants, some of which are edible, while others can be very harmful.
“It can be very challenging identifying plants,” said Walker. “Also, some people have different sensitivities, so it’s very helpful to begin with an educational event like this.”
Once people learn about wild growing food, Walker encourages them to start planting and harvesting them in their own yards. This ensures that the plant species remain sustainable.
“Sustainability is very important to me, so I try to teach the five per cent rule. Only pick five per cent of what you see. We have to remember that there are other animals who rely on these plants as a food source,” she said.
The Wild Food Foraging tour takes place on Saturday July 30. For more information, contact Heather Mountain Lodge.