It’s that time of year in northern Maine where the bushes are loaded with ripe fruit. Wherever you look there are cherries, berries and apples weighing down the branches on which they grow. For the next six weeks, the season of bounty in the county, we’ll be feasting on wild foods, learning about them as part the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester course.
One of these years I’d like to run a standalone foraging and plant study course, but there never seems to be enough weeks in the year to fit everything in.
In the past few days we’ve eaten blueberries, bunchberries, raspberries, pin cherries, sarsaparilla root, fireweed flowers, bladder campion flowers, pineapple weed flowers and the last of this year’s juneberries. The apples in the orchard are just about ripe, and we’re also looking forward to eating the cattails that are trying to take over the shore of the pond. I collected a bunch of acorns from south of here and am going to plant them and see if I can get some oak trees growing in Moose Vegas. The nut that we have in abundance is the beaked hazelnut, which are also just about ripe. There are big stands of them near the orchard and along the river.
For years I’ve said that a good plant class would last for two years, so you could see the plants in each stage of their life cycle twice. So if you’re studying the wild foods in your region, be aware that it’s a long game, not a short one. Wild food are delicious, nutritious and enjoyable to gather, so get out there and get you some!