Forage Walks and Classes



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 your everyday meals with wild and unsual flavors.

But until we pass through the shadow of the valley of the new virus, most of my regularly scheduled plant walks and picnics are on hold. Scroll down to see what is on offer. Small, private walks (four people or fewer) 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.


Check 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 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.

As we walk we learn about two broad categories of plants: so-called weeds - plants that are invasive, or considered useless, or pests; 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 your 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 under our noses, especially in places where we do not expect to find them. These experiences offer us an immersive opportunity to breathe out, and relax. If we pay attention. Call it forage bathing.


Picnics

The 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, or 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 also 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 flora on your land or in your garden.
Talks, Classes - For garden clubs, botanic gardens, conservancies, etc.
Consultation - Original recipes, menu creation, mixology.

Walk Perks

Frequent Walker Miles - for every five walks you book, the sixth is free.

Cancellation Policy 

Credit is issued for cancellations up to three days before a walk.
For cancellations after three days you are welcome to send a guest in your place.
Bad-weather cancellations mean credit towards any future walk.
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Trash Forage with Cake - help clean the park!
Where: Prospect Park Wellhouse
When: 24 October, 10.30am - 12pm

Please join me to collect trash on October 24th in Prospect Park. During the pandemic more people than ever have sought solace (and sometimes shelter) in this green space. At the same time the park has suffered unprecedented budget cuts by the City of New York. Even in normal times City funding of our public parks is shamefully minimal. The park needs help.

After our trash is bagged we will clean up and relax with the wild-inspired bakes I bring along.

To reserve your spot please email me at myviljoen (at) gmail (dot) com

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Foraging in Winter
Where: NYBG
When: 21 January 2021, 11am - 1pm

Join me for a bracing winter ramble where we learn to identify edible plants in their dormant season disguises.

Booking is via the New York Botanical Garden.

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