Last September, during Eat Local Month in Caledon, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) partnered with Eat Local Caledon and held a locally inspired event called Taste the Landscape. The half day workshop was for local residents with an interest in native edibles, local foraging and growing food on their own land. The group hiked the Millcroft’s grounds, heard several short presentations and ate a delicious local food lunch.
David Arama, director of Wilderness Survival School led the hike and pointed out wild edible and medicinal plants. His 30 years of experience in the field was greatly appreciated, as some wild plants are poisonous. Proper identification is important and it was reassuring to have an expert on hand.
Mark Eastman, CVC’s Agricultural Extension Program Coordinator spoke about ways to manage a farm’s environmental impact, and Brenda Dolling from Whole Village spoke about their small fruit orchard and tree planting partnership with CVC and the ways they are trying to incorporate the natural landscape into their farming operations through the use of permaculture concepts.
Spring is a great time to learn about harvesting the bounty of wild edibles around your home. You will have the whole growing season to practice and enjoy the benefits of your new skill. Foraging food is both rewarding and tasty and also emphasizes our relationship with the land and its ability to grow the food that sustains us.
Some of the more common wild edibles found in the Credit River Watershed include the young leaves and stems of watercress and the early spring leaves of the common dandelion before they become bitter. Both can be added to salads. Chicory is a beautiful meadow flower and its young leaves can be a tasty addition to a spring salad. In the late summer and fall, its root can be roasted and brewed into a delicious coffee-like drink. Found along bodies of water, bulrushes, cattail and wild mint are all local wild edibles and a very tasty tea can be brewed from the dried flowers of red and white clover. Also look out for wild leek, fiddleheads and elderberries.
Planting native edibles in your backyard is a fun way to increase your consumption of local foods. Try incorporating tasty edibles like raspberries or service berries into your backyard design. Native plants also provide habitat and a food source for local wildlife. Whether you have a few square feet of garden in the city or lots of acreage in the country, this is just one more way to help restore the environment.
Residential property owners interested in learning more about gardening with native plants can attend one of CVC’s Your Green Yard workshops. Rural landowners have a unique opportunity to undertake this type of project on a much larger scale and can access the new Landowner Action Fund for projects by attending a Caring for Your Land and Water workshop. These workshops are held throughout the year.
Wild edibles are one more reason to get outside and experience the nature world around us.