Forage Walks & Talks


Prunus serotina, black cherries (Manhattan)

On the wild foods walks I lead, the focus is on plants that are not just edible, but delicious and versatile in the kitchen or cocktail shaker. I approach foraging not as means of survival, but as a cook and imbiber looking for new ingredients and flavors. With a some exceptions, my emphasis is on weedy or invasive plants (usually the target of mass-herbicide application), which could easily become commonly eaten and enjoyed vegetables, fruit or herbs. 

Polygonum cuspidatum, Japanese knotweed (Bronx)

Through my writing here, as well as for Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, and via my walks, I advocate persistently for creative control of edible invasives, moving away from environmentally harmful eradication and towards mechanical management, by means of collection and consumption: I will be happy when we can routinely find Japanese knotweed on farmers market tables (where it is still a minor curiosity).


In the last few years the tide of perception has begun to turn: garlic mustard appears on some menus and field garlic and pokeweed are for sale at some farmers markets. If chefs knew the flavor-potential of more 'weeds,' their menus would be overflowing with them. Mine are.

Rhus glabra, smooth sumac (Brooklyn)

In terms of indigenous edible plants there are several I turn to for flavor in the kitchen. I am a strong proponent for growing these plants in our gardens, in order to appreciate them more on our plates. In the Northeast these include beach plums, bayberry, sweetfern and the sumacs.

Tallulah, a young walker, with Taraxacum officinale, dandelion

On wild food walks we discuss the do's and don't's of urban foraging - such as letting sensitive natives be - and we talk about culinary ideas and techniques for unfamiliar ingredients.

All plants are part of our mobile discussion, too. My goal on each walk is to tune the eye to the green details beneath our feet, so that we see the place where we live with newly appreciative eyes and an expanded sense of context.


Mahlab olive oil cake, milkweed cordial, wild herb summer rolls, pokeweed tea sandwiches

My walks are a little different because I keep walking groups small and low-impact. Booking via PayPal is essential (although other arrangements can be made if this is a problem). I offer a wild foods snack, en route. 

Children 10 and younger are welcome at no charge, by prior arrangement, but my walks are not suitable for toddlers on short legs. Children-only walks can be arranged by appointment. 


Spicebush bread, rosehip and petal jam, quail eggs with mugwort salt, mugwort crackers and dip

Ways to Walk or Talk:

Public Walks - Please scroll down for a list of planned walks. I update this every season.

Private Walks - If you would like to arrange a walk for yourself, or for friends - in a park or down your street -  please email me via the Find, Follow link.

Backyard Mission - Your garden is probably packed with edibles. I can help you identify them.

Talks - I am available for private tutoring, public lectures, tastings, and consulting.

Wild Food Consulting - Want to add wild foods to your menu? I can advise.

My booking policy:

Public Walks are kept small, so refunds are given only with 72 hours notice of cancellation.

After 72 hours you will receive credit towards a future walk.
No-show, no notice? No refund, no credit.
If I cancel for any reason (weather, death-by-plant - kidding), your choice of credit or refund.

Serviceberries, Amelanchier species (Brooklyn)

Fall 2016 Walk Schedule

Red Hook, Brooklyn
10 September 2016
12pm - 2pm
$35

Come and explore the sidewalks and parks of the Brooklyn neighborhood that sank beneath Sandy's onslaught. Between cobblestones and through chainlink fences, and in manicured shoreline plantings, a surprising collection of edible plants survives and often thrives.

Queen Anne's lace and evening primrose

We'll slink along Red Hook's warehouse edges before walking through three maritime parks, ending at a community farm where orderly rows and edible weeds live side by side.


Red Hook Community Farm


From there it's your choice of Ikea meatballs, Brooklyn barbecue, or some of the best cocktails in the hood at Fort Defiance. Read much more about Red Hook in my recent blogpost.

We meet on the SE corner of Van Brunt Street and Sullivan Street, on the corner of the park, at 12pm. The B61 bus stops at Van Brunt/Sullivan.

More details will be emailed to confirmed walkers on Friday evening.


WALK COMPLETE

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Northern bayberry

Dead Horse Bay - sorry, SOLD OUT
17 September 2016
1pm - 4pm
$45

A Dead Horse Bay walk is a real New York expedition where public transport and the wilds of Brooklyn meet in the kind of juxtaposition that makes you happy to live here. From the bowels of the subway to the beach where oyster catchers shriek...

Every season presents something different on the shores of Jamaica Bay. This field and beach combination showcases both the weedily edible as well as the indigenously fragrant (which you can also grow at home). From mugwort and milkweed to bayberries, sea rocket and autumn olive, with a low tide forage around the edges to see what a previous century's trash looked like. Dead Horse Bay used to be a dump. Yes, bring bags if you you like glass bottles.

Photo: Vincent Mounier


We'll picnic half way before moving back inland.

I will be bottling a limited amount of Shoreline Pop based on the herbs we see, so please book early to guarantee a taste! 

A confirmation email with more details will be sent out to confirmed walker in the week leading up to our adventure. Please note that 1pm is the meet time on site. Your trip may start an hour before that if you're traveling by subway and bus. 


SOLD OUT
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Monarchs on a black cherry

Central Park's North Woods
8 October 2016
1pm - 3pm
$40

The beautiful and quiet woods of Central Park are filled with native as well as invasive edible plants (and also a gazillion very busy chipmunks). Learn to spot some common edibles as well as some lesser known indigenous aromatics. if you have ever wondered what That Plant is, now is the time to ask. Fall weather also sometimes brings spring greens up for a brief fling before winter locks them up tight again.


Sassafras


If we are lucky, rain and temperatures may have combined to produce a mushroom or three. We will walk and talk, and picnic en route.

More details will be emailed to confirmed walkers in the week leading up to our walk.


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Mugwort, puffballs and hen of the woods

Prospect Park
15 October 2016
1pm - 3pm
$40

Autumn in Prospect Park can mean mushrooms, if we're lucky, and rain and temperatures cooperate to create the right conditions for fruiting. In no way do I consider myself a mycologist but I will teach you the do's and don't's of safe mushroom foraging, what to look for, and where.

The happy thing about a plant walk is that mushrooms (fungi, not plants) are a pure bonus; there are plenty of edible or aromatic plants to keep us occupied, from indigenous Sichuan pepper (yes, it exists) to nuts, herbs and fruit.

Our stroll leads us from the western side of the park right across towards the east, with a hill in the middle, with a picnic en route.

More details will be emailed to confirmed walkers in the week leading up to the walk. 

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