Foraging

Plants are the unsung heroes of the world.  They give us everything from our houses, ability to drive our cars, heat our homes, and eat, to the clothes on our backs.  They give us or are the models for 99% of all of the medicine on the planet.  They are generally unappreciated, over harvested, and in many ways abused.  Our Plant & Foraging classes will take you into their world and allow you to connect and deepen your appreciation for them.  You will be surprised and amazed by the plant world- not only how incredibly adaptive but also how intelligent they are.

View our calendar to check out upcoming classes. Or read about Custom Courses if you’d like to see something happen that isn’t currently on the calendar.

Backyard Plant Series

Prerequisites: None

These Day Long workshops are designed to provide indepth hands on experience in discovering and utilizing many backyard plant species.  We will forage, identify, and prepare common plants of the yard and edge areas for food, teas, and traditional medicinals.  Each course (two per month) will take full advantage of the best times to forage for readily available foods and traditional medicinals.  Course Names for this Series are Spring Edibles, Mid Spring Medicinals, Early Summer Edibles, Early Summer Medicinals, Mid Summer Edibles, Mid Summer Medicinals, Late Summer Edibles, Late Summer Medicinals, Early Fall Edibles, Early Fall Medicinals, Mid Fall Edibles, Mid Fall Medicinals.

For the Love of Cedar

Prerequisites: None

Cedar is a special tree, and we are going to spend a day learning about it.  This is a great opportunity to focus on one plant and really get to know it.  We will learn about it from a taxonomic, survival, wood working, primitive living, and spiritual point of view.  If you don’t already, you will come to respect and love this tree.

Foraging for Wild Mushrooms

Prerequisites: None

Mushrooms are extremely important to our survival as they are a critical link in nutrient cycling and form a beneficial symbiosis with most of our forest trees.  They are valued throughout the world for food and medicine, especially in Europe and Asia, where they often form a core part of traditional diet and healing.  Here in the United States, interest in fungi is often tempered by extreme caution.  Unfortunately, this prevents people from gaining hands-on knowledge of these organisms.  Edible mushrooms are very nutritious, often being high in protein (including essential amino acids), rich in linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), and containing many important vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, and vitamin C.  Further, fungi contain many healthful polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate), shown to be highly beneficial to the immune system.  Similar to wild plants, it is known that most wild mushrooms are more nutritious than cultivated ones.  Join local mushroom foragers for an introduction to edible fungi.  Participants will spend the day roaming the midcoast Maine forests  and studying freshly collected specimens.  Details of identification will be a major focus of the class.  We’ll will also share knowledge of ecology so students can learn where to find edible mushrooms (i.e., what habitats to search in).  The class will culminate with a mushroom meal prepared from the day’s efforts.   10:00 am and concludes at 4:00 pm.

Location: Augusta, ME

Limit: 12 students

Foraging: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

(Seasonal Weekend and Five Day Intensives)

Prerequisites: None

Explore the vast realms of plants as food, medicine, and utility items. This class builds a solid foundation in identification skills, proper foraging techniques, wild crafting, plant uses, and hazardous species identification (as well as look alikes.) Much time will be spend in the field in various ecosystems and at different times of the year. Plant identification is a crucial survival skill as well as an enjoyable pastime.  Maximum number of students: 10.

Location: Delta Institute, Augusta

Healing with Plants, Fungi, and Lichens

Prerequisites: None

Coping with and recovering from illness, injury, and debility has always been part of being human.  For these complaints, plants have served as the major source of medicine.  This class will examine the use of wild plants for healing injury and supporting the body.  Students will learn a suite of plants that grow in New England that can be used for many common ailments, such as colds, infections, gastrointestinal upset, headaches, dermatitis, insomnia, etc.  Methods of collecting will be discussed, as well as, directions for making infusions, decoctions, poultices, salves, tinctures, and smoking mixtures.  Throughout the weekend, various stories and examples will be shared demonstrating how plant-based medicines have preserved life and influenced aboriginal and contemporary people.  Healing with plants provides people and families with another avenue of self-sufficiency and furthers connection to the landscape.  The class will be taught by Arthur Haines (who personally uses plants and lichens for all medicinal needs).

Location: Check Our Calendar for current locations, dates, and times.

Medicinal Mushrooms of Maine

Prerequisites: None

With increasing frequency we find ourselves seeking healthy self-care alternatives in order to achieve and maintain optimum health amid our daily stresses and aging bodies.  We also seek complements or alternatives to western allopathic medicine for optimum health maintenance or during those times when our health is compromised. We have benefited from the generations of traditional healers around the world who have utilized mushrooms for their healing potential.  Now mainstream science is beginning to catch up to the potential for mushrooms as healing agents.  Medicinal mushrooms hold benefits for us all and we need not wait through the lengthy FDA approval for an expensive drug form of mushrooms extract to come on the market in order to reap these benefits.  Maine and New England are home to many of the most well regarded medicinal mushrooms.  Most of the better known and researched medicinal mushrooms work to modulate our immune systems. Their actions stimulate the production of immune factors that function to identify and destroy invasive organisms and malignant cells.  This same immune stimulation increases our ability to fight tumors and other cancers by strengthening those immune system factors present in our body to eliminate cancerous cells.  Come join us for a slide-supported lecture on the Medicinal Mushrooms of Maine on Friday evening.  On Saturday we will spend a day-long workshop of more in depth learning that will include:  learning to identify the more common medicinal mushrooms available in our woods; where to find them; their habitat and pattern of growth; the research supporting their usefulness as healing agents; and methods of collection, preservation, preparation and use.

Location: Check Our Calendar for current locations, dates, and times.

Preserving Wild Foods

Prerequisites: None

Primitive people were skilled at preserving food for extended periods of time, which was necessary for lengthy migrations and lean times during the winter season.  Unfortunately, many people living in developed countries are unable to keep food without the use of modern appliances (e.g., refrigerator, freezer).  This class examines several primitive and rustic methods of food preservation that do not rely on continued use of near- or sub-freezing temperature.  Drying will be discussed at length and several methods will be demonstrated, ranging from commercial dehydrators to the simple use of stone and bark slabs to dry fruit and other items.  Fruit leather, jerky, and pemmican will all be made during the class.  Canning, fermenting, and root cellaring will also be discussed and demonstrated.  Nutritional aspects will be discussed, including the beneficial aspects of fermented foods.  For those interested in living without complete dependence on electricity (whether that be “living off the grid” or emergency preparedness), this weekend will present a valuable set of skills.  Portions of the weekend will be spent gathering some local wild foods as material for preserving.

Location: Check Our Calendar for current locations, dates, and times.

Three Trees

Prerequisites: None

New England’s wilderness is dominated and defined by its trees.  In this class we will spend time with three of our tall cousins to learn how to identify them, a little of their natural history as well as what we can make from them.  From medicine to food to containers and fiber a group effort will be taken to try to see what can be created from these trees every part.  We will even cover the firewood qualities of each species.  Which three trees we cover will depend on the time of year and location.  We will harvest responsibly and sustainably.  Bring a knife, hatchet and saw if you have them.

Western Maine Forgaing Class

Prerequisites: None

This hands-on class is designed for those with an interest in self-sufficiency, human health, and a deeper relationship with plants. Foraging provides many avenues of connection with nature and fosters a greater appreciation of the many things that local landscapes can provide for us. It has become increasingly clear through many independent studies that diets rich in wild foods promote health and defend the body from many of the debilitating ailments that plague modern societies (e.g., obesity, diabetes, arthritis, coronary disease, periodontal disease). Students should expect to spend much of the day outside identifying, collecting, and preparing wild plants for food (so be prepared for weather and biting insects). Class will focus on spring greens, flowers, and root vegetables found in forests and human-disturbed areas (as available). Throughout the class, simple tools will be used and reference will be made to primitive and contemporary methods of processing plants. As well, wildcrafted medicine and utilitarian plants will be discussed to provide a more holistic understanding of how plants can positively affect our lives. Wild nutrition is both a link to the past and a gateway to a sustainable future.  Some locations will be visited off site so please be prepared to carpool short distances from the property.

Location: Check Our Calendar for current locations, dates, and times.

 

Wildcrafting: Bark, Plant Fiber, and Rootlet Baskets Workshop

Prerequisites: None

We will harvest basket making material from the landscape and create containers useful for survival and modern applications.  Bark, plant fibers, and rootlets are the cords available to us in primitive situations.  We will talk about the best plants to use and time of year to harvest.

Woody Plant Identification Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Knowledge of woody plants allows a person to gain a deeper understanding of their local ecosystems.  This one day course, taught by Chris Wood, is designed to give participants a crash course in woody plant id with a focus on the common trees and shrubs of Southern Maine.  The course will have three components: 1) how to use a dichotomous key in the field, 2) long field id walk, and 3) an emphasis on plant communities at large.  We will also cover all common woody invasive plants of the area.  A suggested field guide to bring to class is:  An Illustrated Guide to Trees and Shrubs: a handbook of the woody plants of the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada by Arthur Harmount Graves 1992.  It’s currently out of print, but cheap on Amazon (under 15$).

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