Learn Foraging in the Heart of the Urban Jungle - Prospect Park Edition!
Urban Jungle Foraging in Prospect Park Prospect Park is a great place for foragers to explore at the end of the winter. Like Central Park, this Olmstead-designed landscape features a variety of habitats filled with delicious native and exotic plants. Wild coffee grows within a few minutes walk of the Grand Army Plaza entrance. Unrelated to commercial coffee, we'll collect the seeds of the little-known Kentucky coffee-tree, the world's best caffeine-free coffee substitute. You can use them to make a coffee-like beverage, or as a seasoning that's terrific in chocolate recipes. Cold weather greens abound throughout the park. We'll find garlic-flavored garlic mustard greens and sprouts, which taste like garlic, and their roots, which taste like horseradish. We'll look for chickweed, which tastes like corn, bitter dock, as delicious cooked as it's awful raw, and ground ivy, a mint-flavored herb tea. Both sweet-sharp daylily shoots, and chive-like field garlic will already be producing bumper crops in the cold weather. East of the boathouse, we'll examine a dense stand of chicory, growing along with the ubiquitous dandelions. Both greens have a savory-bitter flavor, and they're at their best right now, before they flower. Throughout the park, we'll look for stands goutweed, an herb that tastes like parsley and celery. It does great in the cold weather. The first tiny leaves of wild parsnips, growing just west of the skating rink, will clue us in to the location of the large, sweet roots. And the abundant, green, fragrant twigs of sassafras saplings, which grow in woods throughout, will let us find roots for making wild root beer. And we'll be able to observe the first wildflowers of the season on witch hazel, hazelnut, common spicebush, and cornelian cherry bushes. These blossoms are tiny, since there are few insects to attract, but "Wildman’s" jeweler's loupes will make all the details clearly visible. 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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