Walks + Forage Picnics

Weed walk in Prospect Park. Photo by Juliana Sohn

Welcome to my plant-walk page.

Please scroll down to book for a specific walk.

Scheduled classes and events are posted here for booking, although I usually announce them first on Instagram @66squarefeet, about a week in advance (when I have a sense of the weather forecast). Private walks for you or for a group of friends or work-team members are by appointment. 

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

My second cookbook, Forage, Harvest, Feast - A Wild-Inspired Cuisine, is the backbone of what I teach and is a useful resource if you are a cook or gardener hungry for new flavors (there are 510 recipes exploring the range of possibilities for 36 very versatile plants). Order from your nearest bookshop or Amazon.

About my Walks

I lead plant identification walks, teach classes, and offer #foragepicnics or wild-inspired drinks in wild and tame green spaces. As much as these experiences are about sharing my passion for plants, they are an introduction to and immersion in the rich natural world that surrounds us. Locally, New Yorkers get to explore a side of the city they did not suspect existed, while visitors see a wild side of the concrete jungle that is underappreciated.

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.

On field trips that are essentially experiential classes, we identify and talk about three broad categories of flora (and not just edible): so-called weeds, whose habit is invasive; exotic plants (introduced species) that have culinary uses; and native plants, which could - and should, but still don't - define an authentic regional cuisine. 

We discuss what parts of plants are safe to eat, and why, as well as culinary ideas and techniques for unfamiliar ingredients. We talk about the constantly evolving 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. Plant blindness can be cured.

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.

Forage Picnics

Bald cypress syrup on a hot day in August

Most walks end with a shared, wild-inspired tasting picnic. It's exactly what it sounds like: Tastes of in-season, wild ingredients as well as preserved forages from my feral pantry. Non-foraged ingredients are high-quality, organic or locally-grown, where possible. I take broad dietary preferences (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free) into account where possible within a group; You can also book a diet-specific, private walk.

Field garlic, juniper and mugwort for a November walk

I begin to prepare a few days ahead of a walk by scouting the route, collecting fresh wild ingredients in an appropriate spot (often not the same as the walk-location), and then spend a day in the kitchen, creating the tasting picnic.

Gluten-free chickpea and mugwort crackers

Ways to Walk and Talk

Scheduled Walks - seasonal walks booked via this page (scroll down).

Team Building Adventures - for corporate groups and schools.

Private Walks - for institutions, friends; with/without picnic.

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 botanic gardens, conservancies, garden clubs, etc.

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

Frequent Walker Miles

For every five walks you attend, the sixth is free. Please keep track and alert me when you're up for a gratis stroll. 

Hot forest toddies on a New Year's Day walk

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations up to three days in advance will receive a refund. Cancellations up to 48 of a walk receive credit for a future walk, to be used within a year. Cancellations within 24 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 the Brooklyn Botanic Garden have their own cancellation policies, per those institutions. 


Spring 2022

May 12th - Spring Edible Plants

Join me in the most glorious month at the New York Botanical garden to learn about spring's edible plants from across the globe, as well as native to the Northeast.

Please see more info and book for them via the links below at the NYBG's Adult Education Department.


Summer 2022

Queens County Farm Museum
10 August 2022
6pm - 7.30pm

Join me for a ramble in the heart of New York City's most diverse borough. We will explore the wild edges of this beautiful space, which has been farmed since 1697, and talk about how to make use of the exotic and native edible plants that we discover. The walk ends with a refreshing botanical drink.

Please book via the Queens Farm's Adult Education page.

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