This past Saturday we spend a beautiful afternoon on a Wild Weeds Walk with Blanche Derby, an author and producer of foraging videos on YouTube, and a wonderful teacher. We had the opportunity to chat with several wild foods enthusiasts after the event, and had a conversation about professionals and amateurs in a field, and compared the level of love, curiosity, and happiness an amateur brings to their hobby. Blanche may be a learned professional, but she still retains the giddiness and desire to listen and learn and teach of a person who has not become a burnt-out professional. She is willing to have a conversation with her students or participants, and accept ideas or recommendations from them with enthusiasm. Her program ran over the allotted time, but there were absolutely no complaints!
Blanche led the walk on private land (Thank you Judy D!) in central Massachusetts through wet, shady woods, to yard margins, and into some planted gardens and trees. She discussed foraging guidelines, like gathering ethics, over gathering, use of guidebooks, experimentation with small portions of new foods, and creating a seasonal list of where and when you find wild edibles. She also provided a comprehensive list of reference books to help with a forager's education.
Some of the plants we came across were dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), fiddlehead ferns (Pteris pensylvanica), violets, cleavers (Galium aparine), Kousa dogwood trees(Comus Benthamidia kousa), mayapple (Podophyllum pellatum), spruce trees, daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), nettles (Urtica dioica), tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), wild strawberries( Fragaria virginiana), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetolla), lilacs, elderberries (Sambucus nigra), and sassafras (Sassafras albidum). We discussed identification, when and what parts to gather, and most importantly, what to do with the wild food!
At the conclusion of the walk, she produced a feast for us to sample some of the wild foods we had just seen. There was a mixed flower salad, greens hummus, knotweed muffins with violet jam, sassafras and spicebush drink, and a mixed nut loaf. We all had a chance to mingle and chat, and had a good time, and seconds of the muffins. Robert and I were very happy to meet another forager, and so many people who are interested in foraging, and hope to attend another of her Wild Weed Walks.