Forage Classes + Walks


Photo by Juliana Sohn

Scroll down to see what is on offer, seasonally. Private walks for you or for a group of friends or colleagues are by appointment. 

If you would like to join my mailing list or enquire about a private walk, please send your details to myviljoen (at) gmail (dot) com.

Forage, Harvest, Feast cover by Marie Viljoen

Visit my Instagram @66squarefeet to see the seasonal forages I am finding, and to help guide or inspire you, if you are new to foraging. There's also my second book, Forage, Harvest, Feast - A Wild-Inspired Cuisine (36-plus plants and 510 recipes) - available at Chelsea Green Publishing, at your nearest bookshop, or, you know, Amazon

About my Walks

There is nothing more exciting than meeting new flavors, and learning how to use them. Every part of every season offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the edible plants that surround us in plain sight, especially in places where we do not expect to find them. 

On intimate urban field trips to familiar and unusual places we encounter and talk about three broad categories of edible flora: so-called weeds, whose habit is invasive and which are considered useless; exotic plants (introduced species) that have culinary uses; and little-known edible native plants, which could - and should, but still don't - define an authentic regional cuisine. 

We discuss about what parts of plants are safe to eat, and why, and about culinary ideas and techniques for unfamiliar ingredients. We also discuss the do's and don't's of foraging; urban and rural pollution issues; sustainability, the relationship between invasive plants and natives; biodiversity; and the real problems of commercial over-harvest of native wild plants (like ramps) - all tying in to my approach of conservation foraging.

My hope is to tune the senses to botanical and natural details at our feet, no matter where we find ourselves.

The group size is small and low-impact; it never exceeds 15 people. It's not unusual for new friendships to grow over the course of the walk. Meet plants, make friends.

Picnickers

Photo by Michael Grimm

Forage Picnics

Many walks end with a shared, wild-inspired tasting picnic featuring seasonal ingredients. I take dietary restrictions into account (as far as possible within a group) when preparing the tasting courses. You can also book a diet-specific, private walk.

Ways to Walk and Talk

Scheduled Walks - listed on Instagram and booked via this page (scroll down).

Private Group Walks - for conservancies, institutions, colleagues, friends.

Gift Walks - Give a wild foods walk with or without picnic as a gift. 

Plant Identification - I identify the plants on your land, public space, or garden.

Talks, Classes - For garden clubs, botanic gardens, conservancies, etc.

Consultation - Garden creation, original recipes, menu design, mixology.

                       Walk Perks

Frequent Walker Miles - for every five walks you book, the sixth is free. Please keep track and alert me when you're up for a gratis stroll. 

Cancellation Policy:

Groups are small and picnics take time to create, source and prepare. Late cancellations and no-shows have a big impact. Refunds are at my discretion.

Cancellations up to four days in advance will receive a refund if I can rebook the spot, otherwise you receive credit for a future walk. If you cancel within four days of a walk you receive credit. Cancellations within 36 hours of a walk receive no credit or refund. 

If I cancel for any reason, you receive a full refund. 

Walks booked via outgoing links to institutions like the New York Botanical Garden (or conservancies) have their own cancellation policies, per those institutions. 

Current COVID-19 Protocols

Walks are open to everyone who is fully vaccinated. Masks or no masks, depending on your comfort level. As a courtesy please use hand sanitizer if we picnic.

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Photo by Vincent Mounier

Bronxploration
Pelham Bay Park
2 October 2021
12pm - 3pm
$65

Like most city parks, Pelham Bay hosts a tangle of diverse plants. There are the invasive weeds (we'll come back for juicy Japanese knotweed shoots in the spring) as well as a surprising collection of native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. But unlike most New York City wild spaces, here there is also an interesting mix of shoreline, swampland, and woodland. It's a little bit of Maine in the Bronx, with islands in the water, and edible seaweeds clinging to low tide rocks.

We will explore it all, with a break for a wild-inspired tasting picnic with a view.

After our picnic and walk there will be a reviving reward of hot yuzu and spicebush tea served from the trunk of my little car. Foragers' tailgate. 

(If you are planning on public transport, take the 6 subway to the end of the line at Pelham Bay, then the bus to City Island. You hop off earlier, though, at the grassy circle near Orchard Beach. From there it is a 15 minute walk. So plan well, and ask Mx. Google for help before you set off. If you are driving and can carpool, let me know, but no pressure.)

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New York Botanical Garden 
8 and 17 October 2021
11am - 1pm
$59 - $65

Two fall classes! Early-to-mid autumn in the beautiful NYBG shows us a rich and diverse collection of edible plants. We will identify both native and on-native edibles as we move from exotic collections and lawns through the native garden. Learn about the indigenous edible spices and herbs we can use in the kitchen for. our daily meals, and reassess the meaning of the word "weed"- in terms of the culinary potential of unwanted plants, as well as their potential impact on native habitats. 

8 October (booking is via the NYBG)

17 October  (booking is via the NYBG)

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