The back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s spurred a revival of interest not only in organic farming, but also in foraging for wild foods and medicinal herbs. Now, with epochal climate change driving the desire to get off the grid and live as sustainably as possible, a whole new generation too young to remember Euell Gibbons is turning its attention to these same pursuits. We’re fortunate to have a number of highly experienced foragers and herbalists living among us here in the mid-Hudson, and several of them are offering workshops at a meadow near you this summer.
Long ensconced on the wild outskirts of Woodstock, on a compound that she calls the Wise Woman Center, Susun Weed may be fairly described as the dean of green witches in America. Her Wise Woman Herbal books have guided thousands of women through childbearing, menopause and general self-care since the 1980s. She’ll be hosting two training sessions there this weekend, with more to come later in the year.
On Saturday, June 22, participants in “The Great Remedies: Hands-On Herbal Medicine” will harvest some of Weed’s favorite healing herbs, including elder, comfrey, dandelion, nettle, motherwort, lemon balm, catnip, red clover, plantain and yarrow. You’ll also learn how to dry them for teas and infusions, or process them to make tinctures, vinegars, honeys and oils. This is a class for beginners and adepts and everyone in between.
On Sunday, June 23, Weed will lead “Tree Medicines in Your Hands,” acquainting you with “the Standing People, the trees, and their allies, the mushrooms and their mycelia.” You’ll learn to make white pine vinegar, oak bark sitz bath sachets and slippery elm balls, among other remedies. Both of these workshops run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the fee for each is $75. You’ll receive directions to the Wise Woman Center upon payment of your deposit. Additional classes will be offered on-site in August, September and October. Visit www.susunweed.com/workshops.htm to sign up.
Montgomery Place Orchards is Red Hook plays host to several visiting foraging experts this summer, with two scheduled for this weekend. On Saturday, June 22, Geraldine Lavin, the apothecarian, writer and cultivator of medicinal plants behind Suntrap Botanical, will lead a workshop in “Herbal Infusions.” Participants will learn about four solvents used to extract the medicinal and social qualities of plants and fungi: water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. The class will create an infusion using fresh, abundant herbs gathered at peak potency to take home.
On Sunday, June 23, Hayden Stebbins of Hayden’s Harvest will lead a “Forage and Feast” walk, gathering and identifying edible and medicinal plants. This will be followed by a trip to the kitchen to prepare a multi-course meal combining the harvest with regular food. This will include a wild plant pesto, hummus, a couple of teas and an extra dish, depending on what plants and mushrooms are found. Both of these workshops run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the fee for each is $60. Visit www.montgomeryplaceorchards.com to sign up. Montgomery Place Orchards are located at 8 Davis Drive in Red Hook.