New York Forage Walks


Prunus maritima - beach plum flowers

Scroll down for my spring schedule of walks. To join my mailing list, please email me

About the Walks

On the wild foods walks I lead, the focus is on plants that are not just edible, but delicious and versatile in the kitchen or a cocktail shaker. I approach foraging not as means of survival, but as a cook and imbiber looking for new ingredients and flavors. With some notable native exceptions, my emphasis is on weedy or invasive plants (usually the target of mass-herbicide application), which could easily become commonly eaten and enjoyed vegetables, fruit or herbs.

Polygonum cuspidatum, Japanese knotweed

Since 2010, through my writing here and in other publications (locally for Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan) and via my walks, I have advocated persistently for creative control of edible invasives by means of collection and consumption: I will be happy when we can routinely find Japanese knotweed on farmers market tables.

Already, in the last few years, the tide of perception has begun to turn: garlic mustard appears on some menus, field garlic is for sale at some farmers markets, and a Union Square farmer is stocking knotweed shoots. If more chefs knew the flavor-potential of many 'weeds,' their menus would be overflowing with them. Mine are.


Rhus glabra, smooth sumac 

On wild food walks we discuss the do's and don't's of urban foraging - such as letting sensitive natives be - and we talk about culinary ideas and techniques for unfamiliar ingredients.

Not just edibles but all plants are part of our mobile discussion. My goal on each walk is to tune the eye to the green details beneath our feet, so that we see the place where we live with newly appreciative eyes and an expanded sense of context.

My walks are a little different because I keep groups small and low-impact. I prefer personal interaction and conversation over a stand and shout approach. I hate shouting. I often learn from the people who attend my walks - fresh eyes and different backgrounds bring new questions and insight. It is not unusual for new friendships to be forged over the course of a walk and a shared, wild-inspired picnic. 

Spicebush bread, rose jams, quail eggs and mugwort salt, mugwort crackers and dip

Ways to Walk or Talk

Public Walks - Planned walks are listed on this page seasonally.
Pop Ups - Join my mailing list for walks or tastings at short notice.
Private Walks - Personalize your walk. Please email me via the Contact link.
Gift Certificates - Give a wild foods walk as a gift.
Identification - I will identify the wild edibles (and other plants) on your land.
Talks - Book me for tutoring, lectures, tastings, mixology or menu consultation.

My Walk Booking Policy:

Refunds are given with 72 hours notice of cancellation.
After 72 hours you will receive credit towards a future walk.
No-show on walk day? No refund, no credit.
Bad weather cancellations mean credit or refund - your choice.

Walks




Inwood Hill Park
15 April 2018
1PM - 2.30PM
$45

Manhattan's wild woods reside at the northernmost tip of the island. Despite the whack of baseballs in the green diamonds at the park's entrance, the hills and dales of the forest are quiet and virtually empty. This is New York nature at its most peaceful.


We will walk under the tall trees, through the shadow of the valley of spicebush and up a ridge to spot edible invasives like garlic mustard, nettles and daylilies.


We will also see field garlic, greenbriar, Japanese knotweed, motherwort, lesser celandine and a host of other invasive plants, as well as some tender and indigenous spring ephemerals.

More details will be mailed to you in the week before the walk.



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Wild Backyard Cocktails and Plant Talk (sold out)
24 April 2018
5PM - 6.30PM
$45.00

Join me in our early spring backyard and kitchen garden in Brooklyn for some wild inspired botanical cocktails - with and without alcohol - and snacks - featuring recipes from Forage, Harvest, Feast (Chelsea Green, Fall 2018).


We will talk in a very relaxed atmosphere about indigenous as well as exotic edible plants that can be grown in regular gardens - in mine the forageable natives include black chokeberry, blueberries, common milkweed, daylilies, elderberry, ostrich ferns, ramps, Solomon's seal, ramps and wintercress.


Yes, tulips, muscari and violets are edible, No, daffodils are not!

Space is limited to 10 attendees. A confirmation email will be sent to you upon sign up.


Sorry, Backyard Cocktails is sold out! Please scroll down to May 9th, or email me to be added to a waiting list. 

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Photo: Vincent Mounier

28 April 2018 (3 spots left)
Pelham Bay Park
1PM - 4PM (plus travel time)
$50

Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx is one of my favorite places in New York City. It is an unexpected combination of maritime islands, rocky shoreline, beach, forests, and wetland. And the iconic Orchard Beach carpark, visible from outer space.

Empty in spring.

The park offers unusual variety in terms of botanical interest. There may also be owls, deer, and oyster catchers. There will be flotsam and jetsam. There will be weeds and wonderful indigenous plants. All told, it will be a gentle 5 mile walk (no hills, though) over 3 hours, and you should plan on additional time for getting there.


April is Japanese knotweed season in New York City. Can a weed have a season? Should a weed have season? Yes! When it is edible. I continue to make a case for bringing this super invader to market, in neat bundles. Its spring harvest could be a boost to farmers and land owners whose land it has invaded, and also a creative way control the plant mechanically, rather than dousing it repeatedly in RoundUp. Japanese knotweed is a very, very difficult plant to control. But it is also delicious.

Japanese knotweed's tender, asparagus-lookalike shoots appear while winter's leaves are still crunching underfoot and the trees are relatively bare. Every spring is different but timing it for late April should mean we find some collectable morsels as well as plenty of other invasive edible plants.


A gorgeous native spring ephemeral, cutleaf toothwort, is present at Pelham Bay. Observing indigenous and invasive plants together is an excellent lesson in urban ecosystem contradictions. We absolutely, positively, do not pick these ephemerals. And if you do you will be dunked in the Sound.


We may also see diminutive and vulnerable Anemone quinquefolia. It grows in the same woods where hordes of edible daylilies stampede across the forest floor. We can also expect to see serviceberries in bloom, spicebush, trout lilies, and invasive lesser celandine and garlic mustard.


We will stop and enjoy our multi course wild foods tasting picnic at half time on an island looking out over Long Island Sound, to the sound of sea birds, and maybe accompanied by an osprey sighting.


I will send exact coordinates and travel options upon sign up. But plan your commute time into your day - it could easily be an hour, each way. This will be a real New York adventure.



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Garden Spring Fling
16 May 2018
5PM - 6.30PM
$45

By mid May spring is racing though the city, and in our Brooklyn garden the greens are now lush. Come and share some flower-forward cocktails (with or without alcohol), talk about what unusual edibles can be grown in ordinary gardens, and learn how to make botanical pop. 


Space is limited to 10 guests. A confirmation email will be sent to you on sign up.




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