Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wild Foods Workshop at Whallonsburg Grange

wild foodOn Sunday, April 30, the Whallonsburg Grange Hall will present “Dig, Cut, Cook, Eat: An introduction to harvesting and preparing wild foods,” taught by Dillon Klepetar, co-owner of Farmstead Catering in Essex.

The course will include a field portion and a kitchen portion, beginning with a hunt for nearby wild foods. Participants will then use what is collected, supplemented by local farm products, to collaboratively prepare a lunch feast in the Grange’s commercial kitchen.

The class will take place from noon to 4 pm, meeting at the Grange before heading out into the woods. Activity includes walking on uneven ground and standing for long periods of time. Participants should be prepared for a variety of outdoor conditions, and should bring gloves, a trowel and a pocket knife. Cost is $15 per person, or $25 per family. Register ahead of time by calling the Grange at (518) 963-7777 or by emailing

The Whallonsburg Grange Hall is located at 1610 NYS Route 22, five miles south of the village of Essex. The Grange serves as a community gathering space for eastern Essex County, hosting musical and theatrical performances, lectures, forums, and workshops, as well as hall rentals for private events.

Photo of ramps provided.

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6 Responses

  1. Steven Daniel says:

    A downside of the wild foods movement is the potential impact on native species. Wild leeks are a good example – they can be abundant in places so it may not be apparent how overcollecting can affect them. Yet it can and does. Setting loose a group of people with trowels into native woodlands can be detrimental, despite the best intentions of participants and leaders. See a recent paper from St. Lawrence University. for a recent paper that explains these concerns. From the Executive Summary –

    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Proposed Part 2012) should monitor and protect wild leek populations, create guidelines developed for plant conservation practices, and fund initiatives to conserve New York’s wild leeks. An appropriate solution to the wild leek conservation issue would ensure the protection of the species from over-harvesting, as well as the creation of a larger supply of the species that can be used in restaurants and during ramp festivals. After considering the feasibility of all possible solutions to the problem, we have come to the conclusion that the harvesting of wild ramps should be limited through a harvesting permit program, cultivation should be encouraged, and educational programs must be put in place to make people aware of the issues created by over-harvesting and to expose them to the basics of plant conservation.

    I am not aware of any action on DEC’s part on this, though perhaps there has been.

    The last point is the included photo shows a cultural predilection that can be changed. I personally only harvest and use the leek leaves – they are excellent in a variety of dishes. The plant can easily survive a few leaves per plant. Harvesting of bulbs, especially young ones as are found in the spring, can have a far greater impact. Something to think about.

    Finally – let’s not forget that apparent abundance of a resource means it is forever. Numerous examples in our environmental history- passenger pigeons that blackened the skies with their numbers are one well known one.

    • John Warren says:

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment. The Almanack would welcome a guest essay about this topic.

      John Warren

  2. Paul says:

    It’s interesting. You can harvest fish and game on state land land (with limitations of course) but I don’t think you can take any plants even from state parks and municipal property.

    This from the NY Times on an article about collecting fiddle heads.

    “Furthermore, collecting any species of plant on state-owned land is prohibited altogether. All public parks – state, county and city – prohibit removal of plants. ANN L. DEGROFF New York, N.Y.”

  3. Charlie S says:

    Ramps! I have been eating them for the past week. They came from a place in the woods off of a trail on State land in the Catskills a week ago this past Sunday. How delicious they are! Someone I know loaded me up with a generous portion of this plant and I must say…Yum Yum. She was hiking and she knew what to look for and went to work on a patch of ramps that would have taken days to pick said she. I thought to myself Wow! I like the idea of knowing wild plants in the woods, picking them and eating them. I did not think much of the negative effects until after reading Steven Daniel’s piece above. Now I have second thoughts on the matter. Just think if everyone and their brother and friends and their extended families knew what and where the wild vegetables grew! There’d be nothing left in no time t’all. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Geogymn says:

    I’ve been harvesting wild leeks for years, albeit off of private land. I use the whole plant. I am careful not to deplete a patch, rather I browse, harvest a concentrated bunch (5 or 6 plants) and then move on to the next patch. And like everything else in the woods, LNT.

  5. Charlie S says:

    So you’re thoughtful, futuristic…..we need more thinkers like yours Geo!