Learning Foraging in the Heart of the Urban Jungle- Saxon Woods Park
Saxon Woods Park's forested areas, cultivated places, and tailsides are excellent places for mid-spring foraging, and we'll be very busy with a variety of common, widespread, renewable native and exotic plant species as we explore these habitats. The sunny borders between woodlands and open areas provide prime habitat for wild herbs and greens. We'll look for sheep sorrel and wood sorrel, with their wonderful lemony flavors. Poor man's pepper, a common, delicious wild mustard, also appears in great abundance in disturbed habitats, and its even more common, invasie relative, garlic mustard, is taking over the forest. For a finale, when the group leaves the woods, it will come to a marsh full of common cattails. Only at this time of year can you eat all three stages of this wild food bonanza, prized by cultures as diverse at Native Americans and Russian Cossacks. The peeled shoots taste like crunchy cucumbers. You prepare the immature, green, sausage-shaped flower heads like corn-on-the-cob, and serve them with a sauce, and you shake the pollen of the mature, yellow, flower heads into a paper bag, and use it as flour, to make golden pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Cattails are so good, "Wildman" always eats them wherever they're abundant, even though he's a vegan!
Naturalist-author "Wildman" Steve Brill is America's go-to guy for foraging. He's been leading foraging tours and providing demos for the public, for schools, day camps, birthday parties, museums, nature centers, parks departments, restaurants and chefs, garden clubs, hiking clubs, teaching farms, nurseries, and other organizations, in parks and natural areas throughout the Greater NY area, since 1982. He created his own website, Foraging with the "Wildman." His Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Places (William Morrow Publishers, 1994) is considered a classic on the subject. His innovative Wild Vegan Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, April, 2002) is changing the way people think of preparing gourmet food. His Shoots and Greens of Early Spring in Northeastern North America (self-published, 1986 and 2008) teaches people how the foraging season begins, and his Foraging with Kids introduces children to the natural world. His Foraging With the "Wildman" DVD is showing people how it's all done, and his iOS/Android app, Wild Edibles, is the best foraging app in America. But the world-famous environmental educator is still best known for having been handcuffed and arrested by undercover park rangers who infiltrated a tour, for eating a dandelion in Central Park!
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