Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program to sponsor nature walks

The College’s Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program is sponsoring a debut program called “Where the Wild Things Are,” a green initiative to educate students and members of the community about nature and ecology, as well as the benefits and uses of edible and medicinal wild plants and mushrooms.

“What we are trying to instill in our students and the community is a passion for responsible and sustainable environmental stewardship and the rediscovery of vital food,” said Katharine Millonzi, manager of the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program. “The wild edibles walks of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ continue our series in taste education and demonstrate our commitment to sustainable food from a broad range of perspectives.”

The nature walks will take place during the first four weekends of May and will be led by experienced and passionate instructors. Foraging experts include Ansel Bubel ’08, an alum of the College; Russ Cohen, a teacher of wild edibles; Blanche Derby, who has recently undertaken a film project on edibles; John Root, a forager inspired after weekly field trips led by Oberlin’s herbarium; Evan Strusinski, who became a forager as a natural extension of his interest in cooking; and John Wheeler, a founding member and president of The Berkshire Mycological Society. The nature walks will take place around Williamstown, Mass., Stockbridge, Vt. and Lee, Mass.

One of the motivations for undertaking such a series is to present expert voices to the public in order to educate the community on ecosystem balance and sustainability. These wild food walks will focus on responsible harvesting techniques, recipes and the history of foraging in the Berkshires.

The goal is to teach and instill healthier culinary practices. These events are free to College students and open to all community members for $15 to $25 per person, but registration is required at least 24 hours before a scheduled walk.

These eight wild food walks will culminate in the “Berkshire Grown’s Farmed + Foraged: A Weekend of Spring Flavors” event, a culinary celebration of farmed and foraged seasonal foods at more than 24 restaurants throughout the region. From May 20-22, participants will offer menu items featuring wild edibles, locally grown produce, Berkshire artisan cheeses, heritage breed meats, locally made bread and chocolate and Berkshire-crafted beer and spirits.

“What better way to celebrate spring than through an enjoyable, educational foraging venture with our local food and nature experts,” said Stephanie Boyd, director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.

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