Growing up, my Oma would make one of my favourite summer snacks. I didn’t know what it was called at the time, only that she would dip flat-topped clusters of flowers into batter, fry them quickly in hot oil and sift powdered sugar over them. My friends and I would inhale these delicious treats and later my Oma would receive phone calls from worried parents whose kids told them they had been fed strange flowers. It was only as an adult that I learned that they were elderberry fritters my grandmother was feeding us.
My father has been a nature lover his whole life. As a boy, he and his friends would set off into the woods with no more than a bed roll, lighter and tin can, camping out, eating what small animals they could catch and whatever wild food they could find. Spending summers with him, he would take my step-brother and I out for walks in the fields and forest behind the house and teach us the names of trees and plants. He taught us how to suck the sweet nectar from red clover flowers, and the perfect stage to eat the juicy milkweed white from the young pods.
Though there were many years between those early childhood experiences and when my own passion/obsession for plants kicked in, those formative moments stayed with and shaped me in ways that it comes as no surprise to find myself where I am now, doing what I’m doing. Those first encounters with the plants connected me to the earth, grounded me and instilled a love of nature in me, so that I can follow the thread forward in time and see my present self, not as one who has been radically transformed, but simply someone who is on a journey.
So it seems only fitting that another step on this journey has me teaming up with my dad to put on a workshop at his place in Fesserton, Ontario. He’s been puttering in his 5 acre woodland for some years now, transplanting native woodland plants like ramps and blue cohosh, clearing out some areas for a thriving vegetable garden and most recently he has become very interested in mushroom cultivation, inoculating logs, IDing existing mushrooms on site and experimenting with different techniques. My favourite Christmas gift last year was the bag of dried oyster mushrooms he gave me.
He has a life-long learning and intimate knowledge of trees and working with wood, along with many decades of observation and awareness of the natural world. Coupled with my plant obsession and interest in perennial agro-forestry as seen through a permaculture lens, I figure we have at about 80 years of experience between us!
If you live near or in the Georgian Bay area (or know someone who does) you might be interested in the workshop we’ll be hosting together on Saturday May 24th.
The morning portion will consist of some basic theory of sustainable agro-forestry/perennial silviculture including coppicing and non-timbre forest products. If we have time we might go over chainsaw operating and tree felling skills & safety. Then we will dive into the fun, hands-on portion with mushroom cultivation. After lunch we’ll finish the day off with a woodland edible and medicinal plant walk. Everyone goes home with their own mushroom log.
If you only want to come for the plant walk in the afternoon that’s an option too.
All the details and registration options can be found here: http://thewildgarden.ca/event/food-and-medicine-from-the-forest/
Participants will receive the address and link to a map upon successful registration.
Come spend the day with my dad and I in beautiful Georgian Bay!