Guest post by Luke Eckstein instructor for the upcoming workshop: Foraging for Wild Edibles – Spring on May 19th. 

 Spring is my favourite time of year. Everything is waking up from sleeping under a blanket of snow for months and is quick to become vibrant, alive and full of colour. The flowers start to bloom as their insect pollinators begin emerging. A procession of spring ephemeral plants (perennial plants that emerge quickly in the spring and die back to their underground parts after a short growth and reproduction phase) spread across the carolinian forest floor before the tree canopy opens up to shade them while they survive off of what they have managed to store away. Shade tolerant plants continue their life cycles under the new canopy and the mushrooms begin to fruit more now that they are more protected from the sun. Coming out of the winter months, I’m always anticipating the change in the weather that warms the soil and waters the sprouts and shoots of new growth.

In spring the plant’s energy is in the root and then moving up into the shoot, leaves and flowers.  One of these plants in the spring ephemeral group is called Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum, which has mottled or speckled leaves and a yellow flower.It is a beautiful little plant that can be abundant enough to carpet the forest floor and yet it takes years to gather enough energy for it to flower. All parts of it are edible from the sweet and crunchy root bulb to the leaves and flowers. It can be hard to imagine such abundant plant’s being over harvested but when it takes years to gather the sunlight needed to flower you can see why we are able to have a big impact if we take more than we need.

If you want to learn more identifying edible plants and mushrooms and foraging in a sustainable manner, come learn about our local plants with me this Saturday May 19th at the Foraging for Wild Edibles – Spring 

Instructor – Luke Eckstein.

I grew up in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and I’ve been eating wild edible plants since I was little.  The first plant I ever learned to eat is a plant called Cheeses or Common Mallow.  I have no memory of how I learned it was edible, but I do remember picking and eating it from around my schoolyard by at least grade three.

I was also very lucky to grow up with a forested area behind our house where I would build forts, follow animal trails and explore.  I learned to watch out for the thorny trees (Hawthorns), the biting insects (bees and mosquitoes) and not to step on the stinky plants in the marshy areas (Skunk Cabbage).  When our family moved to another forested property, I was amazed by all the new and different plant species I found in this other kind of forest and took out two books from the library: Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Plants and Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants.  I indulged my curiosity learning about plants throughout high school until I had less time for this while attending university.
At university, I studied biology and was entirely amazed by subjects like genetics and cell biology, and I chose to specialize in molecular biology and microbiology.  Learning from these fields about how the world works on a scale below what we can see with our eyes is like rediscovering all sorts of things that I thought I knew.  I also took courses in plant biology and zoology and have been quite compelled by questions about the origins of life, the story of life on Earth over time and how the world of today came to be.  I am obviously still learning and will be for a very long time, but I would love to share my foraging experience and help others discover and rediscover the wonders of the world around us.

 

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