Forage Classes + Walks

Marie Viljoen picking viburnum

There has never been a better time to learn about the plants that surround us. We know that walking in nature heals us, and understanding how to find free food is not only helpful when budgets are tight, but that more elusive thing: fun - a constant treasure hunt, full of surprises that inform everyday meals with wild and unusual flavors. Learning to identify edible plants builds a necessary awareness of the connection between the food we eat, and how it grows. That is a complex subject, and touches almost every aspect of our lives. 

Scroll down to see what is on offer, seasonally (although pop up walks are posted to my Instagram page @66squarefeet). Private walks for you or for a group of friends or colleagues are by appointment. 

If you would like to join my mailing list please send your details to myviljoen (at) gmail (dot) com.

Take care, wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance, and eat well.

Forage, Harvest, Feast cover by Marie Viljoen

Visit my Instagram @66squarefeet to see the seasonal forages I am finding, and to help guide 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

I lead plant identification walks in the urban and wild green spaces that surround us. While edible plants are our focus, all plants, and how they fit together, are part of our mobile discussion. Our walk groups are small and low-impact. 

As we walk we learn about two broad categories of edible flora: so-called weeds - generally invasive, or considered useless; and native plants - some of which could, and should, define an authentic regional cuisine. There is nothing more exciting than meeting new flavors, and learning how to use them.

We learn about what parts of plants are safe to eat, and why, and we talk 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 help tune the senses to the botanical and natural details beneath our feet and above our heads. 

Every part of every season offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the plants that surround us in plain sight, especially in places where we do not expect to find them. These experiences offer us an immersive opportunity to breathe out, and see the world differently. If we pay attention. Call it forage bathing.

Picnickers

Photo by Michael Grimm

Picnics

Most walks end with a shared, wild-inspired tasting picnic featuring seasonal ingredients. With sufficient notice I cater to basic dietary preferences like vegan and vegetarian and do my best to accommodate other requests, like gluten-free, and serious allergies, if it is feasible within a diverse group.

                                               Ways to Walk and Talk

Walks may involve hills and steps and rough paths, and require a moderate fitness level. We cover one-to-three miles in two hours. I am happy arrange walks to suit different abilities, and wheelchair-friendly routes are available by prior arrangement.

Public Walks - Scheduled seasonal walks are listed on this page.

Private Walks - For friends, kitchen crews, corporate teams, conservancies.          

Gift Walks - Give a wild foods walk with picnic as a gift. 

Plant Identification - I identify the plants on your land or in your 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 (Read This):

My walks are kept small so cancellations have a big impact:

Cancellations up to three days before a walk: credit is issued for a future walk. 

Cancellations within three days of a walk: you may send a guest in your place. 

Same-day cancellations or no-shows: no credit or refund is issued.

Bad-weather cancellations: automatic refunds unless you prefer to keep credit for a future walk.

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Fort Tilden Frolic
8 May 2021
12pm - 3pm
$60

Come and sniff the ozone breezes, hear the waves and listen to the hysterical oystercatchers squealing and wheeling above one of the loveliest beaches the city has to offer. We will explore the edible springtime plants of early May in the dunes and along the abandoned back roads of Fort Tilden. This interesting junction of old military infrastructure and native shoreline offers an intense clash of plants, from Northeastern natives like bayberry, common milkweed and beach plum, to botanical thugs like mugwort and honeysuckle. 

Our picnic will feature the flavors we meet, like baby pine cones and pine cone honey, sweet clover, mugwort, bayberry and more.

Fully Booked
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Wildflowers in spring

Spring Edible Plants at the NYBG
27 May 2021, 11am - 1pm
$65 (non-members), $59 (members)

Because my class on May 11th is fully booked, the NYBG is kindly offering a second one, so I'll be back on May 27th, and there are still some spots left.

I am thrilled to be teaching at the NYBG when the garden is bursting with blooms. The gorgeous Native Garden and Thain Family Forest offer a unique urban opportunity to see a wild and wide collection of indigenous edible plants in one spot. (Although I can't help stopping en route every time I notice an edible weed. So we will talk about those, too!)

Well-known wild edibles like fiddleheads will have emerged and will give us the perfect backdrop to discuss the serious issue of over-harvesting and unsustainable foraging practises: Ramps will be under discussion, too. (I encourage shoppers, foragers, and vendors, to buy, collect, and sell ramp leaves only. Why? Learn more in this class. You can even help spread the word and make a difference: On social media I use the hashtag #rampleavesonly)

Tickets for this spring forage class are available only through the NYBG. Because of the garden's COVID protocols we will not be picnicking but you will certainly learn how to make your own wild-inspired snacks! (It helps if you own a copy of Forage, Harvest, Feast, but it is certainly not mandatory.)

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