Plant Walks + Classes

Photo by Juliana Sohn

I lead plant identification walks, teach classes, and offer forage picnics in wild and tame green spaces.

Please scroll down to book for currently scheduled walks (I post pop-ups on Instagram @66squarefeet, about a week in advance of the walk). 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.

For my favorite wild plants and flavors, and how to use them, peruse my second cookbook, Forage, Harvest, Feast - A Wild-Inspired Cuisine (36-plus plants and 510 recipes) - available at Chelsea Green Publishing, at your nearest bookshop, and 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 field trips to parks and wild places we encounter, identify and talk about three broad categories of 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 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.

Forage Picnics

Christina Whittaker and Jing Yang picnicking at Pier 6

Many walks end with a shared, wild-inspired tasting picnic with four to six courses. 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 organic or locally-grown, where possible. I take broad dietary preferences (vegan, vegetarian) into account when preparing the tasting courses. You can also book a diet-specific, private walk.

Ways to Walk and Talk

Scheduled Walks - seasonal walks 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 botanic gardens, conservancies, garden clubs, etc.

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

Walk Perks

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. 

Cancellation Policy

Groups are small so 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. 

COVID-19 Protocols

Walks are open to everyone who is fully vaccinated. 

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Native Flavor Walk
26 November 2021, 1pm - 3pm
Brooklyn Bridge Park
$55.00

On the heels of the biggest food holiday in the United States come and meet the plants - herbs and spices and even some late fruits - that could define regional North American cooking. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park is planted with a living library of botanical references that offer a sense of how our cooking could be influenced by native flavors. After our walk we will spoon up hot pozole infused with bayberry and spicebush and nibble on cornbread. With a spectacular view of downtown Manhattan across the East River.

Booking Closed
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Post-Thanksgiving Ponder
Prospect Park
28 November 2021, 12pm - 3pm
$55.00

What a good time to discuss what it is native, what is introduced, what is considered invasive, and how they (we?) all got here, or were displaced. It's complicated. Also, what might defy - or at least challenge - those parameters (that would be mushrooms). 

Join me for a wild-ish walk in Prospect Park where we will meet the flavors of late November. Our picnic menu will feature a meaty and/or vegetable-y hotpot (depending on the dietary preferences of those who sign up), aromatic with spicebush and mugwort (native, and invasive, respectively), and cranberry (native) and juniper (native) hand pies.

Let's walk and talk. 

Sold Out
(very sorry, this went fast)


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