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Curriculum Teacher's Manual

Wild Edibles: Start Foraging!

Klara Hansson delivered this ‘micro-teaching’ session on 25 Sept 2013 at the Spain meeting of the European Permaculture Teachers Partnership.

Klara shares a lesson plan below for providing this session yourself.  Just below, find a video of the session shot and edited by by Mihail Kossev.

A) Context Design

  • Give an authentic task, like picking a wild salad for lunch.
  • Give info during a 2hr walk, stack social connection time.
  • Give participants opportunities to share their experience and knowledge.
  • Acknowledge that the teacher is also a learner, and that there is no end to learning about wild plants and their uses.
  • Adapt for different age and skill groups using tweaks such as, for example, a scavenger hunt, participant-mini teaches, etc.

B) Process Design

  1. Identify and name the plant / make sure you’ve ID’d poisonous look-alikes!
  2. Tell how to harvest and which parts to use, give people samples to eat on the spot while you talk!
  3. As people are tasting, smelling, exploring the plant, give more info:
      • how you’ve used the plant, favorite recipes etc.
      • other uses you’ve heard of, invite them to share their stories with the plant

    times of year, places that are best for picking, any medicinal or toxic properties

C) Content Design

Nettle: (Urtica dioica)

Gathering Instructions: Hold using top part of the leaf, where there’s least stingers, or stroke leaves from step to leaf tip, (like stroking a hedgehog in the direction of the spines).

Eat Raw on the spot: Fold up the leaf into a little bundle, squish it and chew it up.

Edible parts: Leaves, Seeds (see Warnings below).

Recipes: Nettle Soup, Nettle Crisps, Dried nettle for tea and seasoning, wild greens omelets and stir-fries.

Other uses: Fiber, primitive cordage,

Medicinal: Diuretic, stimulant, activates immune system, rich in silica and nitrogen, contains lots of protein (and many more 😉

Warnings: Young shoots and leaves are OK in any quantity. Eating a lot of nettle that is at flowering stage or beyond could lead to silica overdose, and isn’t recommended. Seeds OK in small quantities.

Stories & Other Info: People who survived on eating nettles only for years, stories of survival living,

Fat Hen (Chenopodium album):

Edible parts: Leaves and seeds. Excellent wild spinach. Mild flavor.

Recipes: Wild green soup, salad component, can be dried easily for winter, green stir-fry, wild greens omelet 🙂

Other uses: Animal fodder.

Stories & Other info: Wild relative of Amaranth and Quinoa (Chenopodium family)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Taxonomy: Asterace / Compositae family, together with lettuces, sunflowers, etc.

Gathering Instructions: Pick yellow petals from the flower heads and eat raw. Use leaves in salads etc (caution they are bitter!!). Dig up roots, wash to cook.

Edible parts: Everything. Eat as much as you can – bitterness will stop you from eating too much 🙂

Recipes: Leaves in omelets and wild soups, flowers raw, in salads, or battered and deep-fried. Roasted dandelion roots as coffee substitute, or add to potatoes and carrots for a roast root medley.

Warnings: Fresh green parts contain latex, some people allergic or tolerate it poorly. Bitter taste of leaves turns some people off. (though you can invite people to get used to tannins and bitter tastes)

Feedback on the session given by participants:

Positives:

  • Not too complicated plants; they taste good
  • Little details added, e.g. “Fat hen the cousin of quinoa”
  • Related to plant identification, botany
  • Social interaction: Inviting the knowledge of the group; e.g. “My grandma always used to…”
  • Using our senses: Feeling and touching, smelling, tasting, look at, hear about
  • Stacking functions: Giving a lesson and foraging your lunch/dinner

Negatives:

  • How to recognize the plants?  More info needed on patterns, details
  • Can’t remember all info; need handout with list of plants and pictures
  • More interaction, less lecture

Interesting:

  • Scavenger hunt: Send people out with a list/pictures of plants, ask them to collect as many as possible
  • Do a short research and report on an edible plant; e.g. an asignment for school kids
  • Tell about poisonous look-alikes