Yearlong Foraging Immersion
Responsible harvest of wild plants, season by season
One day per month for twelve months (March–February) || 10 am–4 pm
Various locations || Full program tuition: $1,495
Eating a plant is one of the most basic, important, and intimate ways to get to know them—and the world of wild edible plants is amazingly wide, varied, and exciting! By learning about wild food plants in our region, we can not only open our kitchens to all kinds of exciting new flavors but also build deep, lasting, and reciprocal relationships with the local ecology. The goal of this program is to help us connect with the land around us, history, and each other by getting to know the many incredible edibles of this magnificent biosphere. Food has long been a cornerstone of culture—the flavors and techniques of place influence customs and are fundamental to our everyday life. At Rewild Portland, we prioritize gathering plants in the most ecologically friendly way possible, prioritizing invasive and common species, and actively participating in land tending and regeneration of these plants who we love.
This program is a combination of nature immersion, lecture, discussion, and hands-on practice. We meet one Saturday each month for the duration of a year and travel to beautiful locations all around the region. Every day in this program is a field trip, where we’ll get lots of hands-on practice working with plants, lichens, and mushrooms! Shelby Lynn, a Rewild Portland foraging instructor, will guide each class, and we’ll also have guest speakers of different backgrounds and specialties. Together we’ll gather, tend, and encourage new growth for these plant allies, while building a relationship of deep appreciation for our incredible bioregion. We will learn plant and fungi identification, land tending, and ecology, make wild foods and crafts with the class, and learn to apply these skills to our own foraging practices. With a year to witness each plant through its full life cycles, we come to know the different stages and ways of interacting with them. Every class will be focused on land tending and habitat restoration—regenerating the land through our foraging practice. Working with these timeless skills, we will build a sense of community with one another and with the plants whose lives we share. We’ll interlace our learning with singing, storytelling, and gratitude, along with the exuberance of digging, wading, plucking, and shucking.
So, why do we meet for an entire year? There’s such an incredible amount to know about plants—meeting for a year just barely scratches the surface. The fact is, we can spend the rest of our lives learning about the plants and animals of our world and never be done learning! Another reason for this year-long intensive is that the world is constantly shifting through cycles: hot to cold, wet to dry, high sugars to low. This means that any region will change dramatically over the course of a season, let alone a year. We may see a soft little fireweed shoot early in springtime, but it’s important to know its delicious flowers in summer, to visit in fall when it makes strong cordage, and to return in winter when it dies back and leaves telltale signs to find next spring. In this program, we’ll learn to follow the plants’ sugars—stored deep in the roots during winter, then bursting into meristems in spring, before joining late summer fruits and slowly sinking back into the roots. We will learn how our actions impact ecology, and how to be respectful of the life around us. We’ll learn the incredible amount of energy that goes into a single artist conk mushroom, or thallus of lungwort lichen, and not only how to avoid hurting them, but how to actively encourage their growth. We will learn how incredibly precious each dish of food is, and how we have been endowed with the incredible gift of responsibility for the land in which we live.
Since we will explore such a wide array of species and techniques, our Yearlong Foraging Immersion program is a great choice for folks of all ages and experience levels. From seasoned foragers to absolute newbies, this program can help anyone gain or renew their skills while cultivating a deeper relationship with the land. We’ll practice fermentation, tree tapping, leaching, mycology, and other important skills for living closer with the land. Through the seasons we will explore our nine different ecoregions and traverse locations all around the area, from montane forests to swampy bogs and coastal intertidal zones. We’ll get muddy, and smiley, and full of mushrooms!
Throughout this year we’ll learn what the land can offer us, but also how much we can offer the land. By the practice of culling, pruning, replanting, and learning, we can come to appreciate the world around us in deeper, more connected ways. This practice helps us continue to be better caretakers of the environment and stewards of the earth. Of course, the natural world is unpredictable and uninterested in human schedules, so we will be working around what is seasonally available—if the elderberry isn’t ripe, we’ll learn about bunchberry instead.
Program Dates and Themes for 2023
March 25: Wild and Weedy
For our first workshop, we’ll focus on urban invasive species such as Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, and fennel. We’ll feast on wild foods as we build foundations in responsible foraging, then delve into the many excellent weeds of the city.
April 29: Springtime Meristems
On this adventure we’ll explore some of our more delicious springtime meristems, like false solomon’s seal, fireweed, thimbleberry, and cattail. We’ll work on some foundations of botany, practice awareness of place, and build our relationships with the earth as we come to know the spring landscape better. We’ll finish up by making lacto-fermented shoots to take home.
May 27: Intertidal Adventure
In May we’ll take a trip to the beach to learn about tidal ecosystems! We’ll examine many species of edible seaweeds and grasses, see some complex and beautiful fungal relationships, and learn to extract sea salt. Then we’ll share a warming stew of the sea vegetables that we gather.
June 24: Blackberry Bonanza
This month is all about blackberries. We’ll learn about the many endemic and invasive species in the fabulous Rubus genus and practice culling as land tending. Then, of course, we’ll make some delicious blackberry treats and wash them down with blackberry leaf tea! The day will commence with blackberry crafts, delving into cordage and baskets.
July 29: Foods of the Summer Forest
July is time for fruits. We’ll meet in a beautiful montane forest and spend the day looking at and gathering plants, focusing on huckleberries, osoberry, elder, and early salal. If we don’t eat them all on the spot, some of those berries we gather might even make it home.
August 26: Yellow Pond Lily
Yellow pond lily, or wokas, is a really special plant. This month we’ll be getting muddy at a pond as we wade in to find seedpods. We’ll learn how to gather them in a respectful way and to help spread the rhizomes, then take the seeds home to finish processing.
September 23: Nut Processing and Acorn Ecology
We’ll talk about the importance and habits of nut-bearing species, and the huge ecological and cultural significance of oak savannas in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We’ll learn how to process acorns at different stages, then eat some delicious acorn home cooking! Everyone will have acorn flour to take home.
October 28: Dock Harvesting and Camas Planting
Continuing our dive into oak savannas, we’ll spend this day helping to support this unique ecosystem by replanting one of its more vulnerable plant allies—camas—and culling a plant that is overly abundant—yellow dock. In this way, we can help maintain the delicate balance needed in this vital ecosystem—and we get to eat tasty dock seeds! It’s really a win-win.
November 25: Mushrooms and Lichens
November is an introduction to mycology and lichenology. First we’ll discover the wild and woolly world of fungi, then we’ll go mushroom hunting. We’ll eat what we find, plus a special candy cap treat!
December 9: Roots and Rhizomes
As the plants’ sugars return to their roots for the winter, we’ll start to look at roots and rhizomes. Together, we’ll gather and process eagle fern rhizomes. We’ll also nosh on some of the other seasonal root treats, like gobo, dandelion, and wild ginger.
January 27: Syrup Tapping
As the cool weather begins to break, we’ll learn to tap trees for syrup. We’ll slowly process the watery sap into thick, rich syrup as we chat about the history of this special food. We’ll nibble on maple candy and talk about maple trees while we simmer our syrup.
February 24: Fermentation and Closing Feast
For our last day, we’re having a wild food potluck! Everyone is encouraged to bring food made from plants they’ve learned about. Before we feast, we’ll learn to ferment sodas out of wildcrafted plants. Then we’ll eat, drink, and be merry as we celebrate our skills and the community we’ve built.
Shelby Lynn is, fundamentally, a nerd. A big fan of all the living things, Shelby has been teaching about the unique ecology of the Pacific Northwest since 2005. Shelby’s practice combines foraging for food, textiles, basketry, and herbalism with habitat restoration, permaculture principles, and collective liberation.
To be notified of any openings during the year or to be on notified for next year please join our wait list.