Learn Foraging in the Heart of the Urban Jungle - Idlewild Park Edition!
Urban Jungle Foraging in Idlewild Park Idlewild Park is a great place for late fall foraging. Close to the seashore, it has the sunny fields edible wild plants love, along with the woodland and wetland habitats that bear even more floral diversity. There will be plenty of wild greens available. Lamb's quarters, which tastes like its relative, spinach, sour-flavored sheep sorrel, spinach-flavored lamb's quarters, spicy garlic mustard leaves and roots, fiery poor man's pepper leaves, string bean-flavored Asiatic dayflower leaves, garlicky field garlic, and mild lady's thumb, are but a few of the common, renewable species we'll be learning about and collecting. Fruits and berries are in season too. The autumn olive bush has red berries that taste like currants, raspberries, and pomegranates. The only danger is that they taste so good, when you eat them, you can die of happiness! Wild grapes, similar but more flavorful than the related Concord grapes, will be hanging from the trees, on their vines. We'll also find crab apples, which taste like tamarind. But the highlight of the tour will be the prickly pear, the first time we'll be collecting this plant in 33 years of foraging tours! As a cactus, it grows in the sand, a common enough habitat here. You have to wear rubber gloves or put your hand inside a plastic bag before you break off some of the fruits. Then, singe off the miniscule prickles by holding the pads over a flame, using tongs. Split the fruit lengthwise with a knife, scoop out the hard seeds with a grapefruit spoon, and enjoy this sweet, exotic-flavored fruit raw, or in any dessert you can imagine. Yet another fruit is winged sumac, which you can use to make pink lemonade, or a lemon juice-like concentrate. Unknown in America, a Mid-East species is used there as a famous seasoning called zatar. The 4-hour walking tour begins at 10 AM, Sunday, November 15, (11:45 AM on November 28) at the playground at Dykeman St. and Broadway, which is not in Inwood Hill Park. Here are some things to keep in mind: -Walks are called off for severely inclement weather. -Must be punctual and on-time! -BRING plastic bags for vegetables and herbs, paper bags for mushrooms, plastic containers for berries, drinking water, and a pen (to sign in). -No sandals (there may be poison ivy, bugs, and thorns). -NO SMOKING AT ANY TIME! -RECOMMENDED: Lunch, knife, digger, work gloves, note pad, whistle (so you won't get lost), insect repellent, sun hat or warm. -LISTEN to the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Bring one more layer of clothing than you think you'll need in cold weather. -CHILDREN of all ages are encouraged to attend, and to learn to understand and love their planet.
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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