A Wild Foraging Adventure
By LandPaths Staff
September 25, 2020
At the end of August, Jesica Rodriguez participated in TrekSonoma’s Wild Foraging Adventure at LandPaths’ Ocean Song Preserve. Located on the traditional homeland of the Coast Miwok, the preserve is home to abundant wildlife, plants, and trees. Led by wildlife ecologist and longtime LandPaths’ TrekSonoma partner Meghan Walla-Murphy along with guest chef and forager Coby Liebman, the multi-day overnight trek was modified to follow Covid-19 safety protocols. This meant no camping, lots of hand sanitizer and hand washing, a smaller group, and social distancing between participants outside of household groups. Despite the challenges, it was a beautiful three days at Ocean Song, as Jesica relays in the story below. Enjoy!
GREETING LAND AND EACH OTHER
We spent our first day connecting with each other and the place we would call home for the next three days. Before heading out on the land, we took a moment to pause and share our intentions of the weekend with ourselves and the land. All weekend, we practiced sharing our intention and gratitude with each and every plant we foraged and tended.
In our time on the land, we learned from many great teachers, including our leaders Meghan Walla-Murphy, and wild foods chef Coby Liebman.
To warm our spirits and appetites, Coby prepared a few recipes made with wild ingredients.
First we tasted a rich treat of dark chocolate truffles made with bay nuts. Coby served us some Manzanita cider, made with berries harvested years prior, at lunch to quench our thirst. Each day, Coby shared some of his favorite wild ingredients in his pantry, along with tips and tricks for working with these plants in a culinary practice.
TOOLS/ PRACTICING ETHICS
In the grasslands, we practiced harvesting bulbs, corms and roots- the underground features of plants that are often overlooked, but still serve as a major food source globally. Foraging underground medicines can be difficult, as were heading right down to the root of the plant, reaching to its heart. In general, we aim to take just what we need, and leave the land in better condition than we found it.
We used digging sticks as our tools to ensure the survival of the underground features of the plant. Instead of digging holes in the ground, we angled our digging sticks to make just enough space to pull out the medicine/food we desired. We learned that below the large lacey flower of Queen Anne’s Lace, is a sweet, delicious root; and I now know why it’s known as the Wild Carrot! After pulling out a few individual plants to observe, we took time to soften the soil in the patch of flowers with the digging stick, making it easier for the roots of the plants to spread as time continues leading to a larger harvest.
TENDING THE LAND
The final day of the trek was spent collectively tending plants that will be foraged by animals in the fall. As we headed into the forest, we chose two sites to tend. For the whole weekend, we focused on the importance of giving thanks and honoring the plants for all that they do for our world. It was our turn to give back to this land.
Full of gratitude, we spread out along the creek bed, under the bridge, and along the edges of the path as we untangled and trimmed branch after branch until the wild blackberry, hazelnuts, and currants could peek through the light of the forest.
Although we will not be able to taste the fruit produced by our tending this season, we know that the animals will soon be enjoying the fruits of this labor! We encountered many great plants this weekend including, Huckleberries, Blackberries, Hazelnuts, Currants, Queen Anne’s Lace, Huckleberry, Manzanita, and Bay Laurel and are so thankful for their presence.
Join us for the next TrekSonoma Wild Foraging Adventure on October 23 – 25, 2020. We still have a few spots open. Register today!
Jesica Rodriguez, Bilingual Field Specialist, on her TrekSonoma experience:
" Full of gratitude, we spread out along the creek bed, under the bridge, and along the edges of the path as we untangled and trimmed branch after branch until the wild blackberry, hazelnuts, and currants could peek through the light of the forest. "