Harvest of the Forest reveals richness of wild foods
People involved with Champions For Change’s Harvest of the Forest learned about the variety of wild food the forest has to offer during a May 24 workshop.
The St. Paul Action Bus took participants out to Grace Michaud’s property near St. Lina to learn how to identify, find, and prepare food from wild edibles available in the local woods.
“Growing up learning about edible plants, herbs, and berries was just a way of life and for others, possibly survival. While raising our family, we continued this tradition, but surely as the kids started leaving home, there was less of a demand for this need for a whole lot of preserving,” said Michaud.
Foods found and prepared in the workshop were made with wild raspberries, dandelion, birch syrup, nettle, yarrow, and spruce tip. They were made into cooking ingredients, preserves, teas, and a number of baked goods, including a dandelion cake and spruce tip seasoned cookies.
People learned which parts of the plants were edible, and what the plants’ nutritive properties were.
“It’s nice to come out and listen to people who have such knowledge,” said participant Carmen Hurtubise. “You can’t find this kind of information on Google. It’s super-informative.”
Michaud said she became passionate about foraging for wild edibles while living in B.C., preparing teas and food to sell at markets. She eventually went on to start selling the products she created at a weekly market in Jasper and Dawson City, in the Yukon, while learning from botanists and other specialists.
“Today the younger generation is showing an interest in learning how to do sustainable living and consuming healthy alternatives,” said Michaud.
She has taken her knowledge to the markets in St. Paul, finding a growing community of young people interested in foraging, sustainable food, and alternatives. She decided to hold a workshop to accommodate growing local interest in sustainable living and healthy alternatives.
The program is a branch of Champions For Change’s Thrive on Wellness project, continued through the implementation of a grant from Peavey Mart.
Penny Fox, a participant at Saturday’s workshop and member of Champions for Change said, “The goal of Thrive on Wellness is making healthy food available for all in St. Paul, and raising awareness on the importance of good and local food.”
The workshop stemmed from a food security discussion, and encourages people to grow and process their own food locally.
“A lot of the population lost the knowledge of how to do that over time, and we’re trying to bring those skills back,” said Fox.