CARLISLE, MA – On Sunday, August 1, Northeast Organic Farming Association/ Massachusetts Chapter (NOFA/Mass), is sponsoring a wild edibles foraging walk led by Russ Cohen at Great Brook Farm State Park on 984 Lowell Street in Carlisle from 9:30am to 12:30pm.
“Great Brook Farm State Park is one of the best places I know to lead foraging walks,” said Cohen. “The reason we chose this site over other options is that I have documented 66 different species of wild edibles plants at the park. This number is greater than any other single site that I’ve visited.”
Cohen explained that the huge variety of edible species results from the diversity of the landscape at the park, which contains a working farm, forested areas, a wetland area, and multiple field edges.“At the farm there are many wonderful garden weeds that are edible, including stinging nettle, which is classically associated with dairy farms. The woodland species include blueberries, huckleberries, wintergreen berries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, and sumac. Along the River Meadow Brook, which runs through the park, there are cattail, elderberry, water chestnut, and groundnut.”
“Groundnut is the plant that allowed the Pilgrims to survive the lean winter of 1620 to 1621 when they first arrived on this continent, and it remained an important food crop for many years. Despite the stories we learned in grammar school, corn was not even in the picture,” said Cohen.Along with many native species like groundnut, the park is home to what are considered invasive species such as the Autumn Olive, whose copious berries can be made into a delicious fruit leather or jam. Cohen remarked: “When it comes to the difference between native species and invasive species, the approach I take in my workshop is to ask whether the plant edible -- not to ask for its birth certificate. The generally dry conditions we’ve been experiencing this summer severely limit mushroom yields. If the rain pick up, it’s possible that we’ll see them.”
Registration for the walk is $30, and it is open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Workshop registration is limited to 35 people. There is a $5 discount for NOFA members. To register online or by check (these options are available if received by Saturday, July 31), visit www.nofamass.org and look under “Upcoming Events.” The cost for on-site registration is $35, and last minute registrants are asked to contact event organizer, Ben Grosscup, at 413-658-5374