PNW Foraging classes/guides.
July 3, 2016 7:21 PM   Subscribe

We're trying to find a human who can teach two adults, and a small child how to find edible things in the northwest.

Ever since he could walk, my son has loved picking berries and other fruits when we go on hikes (and just around the city for that matter). He can spot a blackberry patch from a couple hundred yards away, and despite having some sensory processing problems that typically impede him, he's willing to root around in briar patches and get poked a bunch looking for the goods. One of his first two syllable words was 'forage.' My wife and I think this is fantastic, and while we are somewhat outdoorsy, we don't have a ton of experience getting food aside from the odd chanterelle and morel hunt. We'd like to do more hiking with kid, but he tends to get burnt out after the payoff (for example, if we're going to look at a waterfall, once we get to the waterfall the hike is over, right? the hike back to the car is always fraught) Hikes that don't have a midpoint are usually much easier for him to roll with. We'd like to incorporate a standing goal of 'hunting' for things along the way, or keeping our eyes peeled for really interesting plants regardless of their edibility.

We're trying to find a guide, or a class that is both good for children, and effectively newbie adults, preferably based in Portland, or on the Oregon coast somewhere (we go to the mountains sometime, but we're more coast-oriented most of the time).

We've checked out the Oregon Mycological Society website, but it doesn't appear they offer formal classes (just groups where you can bring your mushrooms to to be identified). While we'd be fine just getting fungi-instruction, we're really looking or something a bit more broad than that to extend into other fruits, flowers and greenery.

Books with instruction are also great, but we'd like them to have a pretty solid limit on the PNW, and be ultra-detailed to the point of the author assuming people are starting from scratch.
posted by furnace.heart to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Langdon Cook is a Seattle foraging expert. He does a number of classes here in Seattle and on the Olympic Peninsula, if you do travel north at all, but also guest lectures at other locations. He doesn't have events listed after this past spring, but I'd keep an eye on his website for updates. His blog has a lot of foraging info, including photos and recipes, and he has a book, too.

The Southwest Washington Mycological Society has workshops and forays for members.

Wild Food Adventures offers numerous workshops in Portland and along the coast, and the organization does individual and group training, as well (look under the "services" tab).
posted by weeyin at 7:41 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Be EXTREMELY CAREFUL collecting mushrooms. PNW forests hosts deathcaps!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:54 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

This gentleman wrote many books on the subject of foraging wild edibles.
posted by vrakatar at 9:25 PM on July 3, 2016

I can vouch for this book being pretty much exactly what you want: Pacific Northwest Foraging. Lots of great info. The best part is finding out how many of our common garden weeds are edible!
posted by emyd at 9:26 PM on July 3, 2016

I don't know how old your kid is, but Trackers Northwest has stuff for a range of kid ages and also has a yearlong program that families can join together.

There's a book called Dandelion Hunter about foraging in Portland and the author is going to have a Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Willamette Valley class in September.
posted by hungrytiger at 9:31 PM on July 3, 2016

Up here in Seattle we have Alderleaf Wilderness College, which puts on a lot of courses you might like. I have not attended any of them. There is also a PNW Mushroom ID Facebook group, comments there vary from useful to idiotic, depending on the day.
posted by seasparrow at 10:05 PM on July 3, 2016

I just went to a mushroom hunting 101 class put on by Rachel Box. She might be able to point you to some resources.

Always keep a spare example mushroom of anything you eat, in case you misidentified it.
posted by aniola at 7:58 AM on July 4, 2016

Also you can keep an eye out for mushrooms so you can make spore prints!
posted by aniola at 10:13 PM on July 4, 2016

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