This past week I taught a Wild Edibles class with a group of Junior Naturalists excited to learn about edible plants they might find on their trip to Quetico Provincial Park. Lucky for them, late July is a wonderful time to sample the bounty of the Northwoods forest. Before heading out to harvest, we first discussed the ethics of eating wild foods. It is important to think about leaving enough plants when harvesting so as to ensure the long term viability of the community of plants you are harvesting from, thus at Wolf Ridge we follow a 1 in 10 rule. This means we only pick one of every ten plants, leaving nine to keep growing for others to enjoy. We also discussed the importance of never eating things that you aren’t 100% positive you have identified correctly.
Those thoughts in hand, we set out on an epic hike down to Raven Lake, across the lake in canoes, and along the Superior Hiking Trail. We were lucky enough to find an excellent patch of blueberries growing along Raven Lake, the tiny bright berries bursting with flavor. Along the way we sampled the leaves of Ox-Eye Daisies, somewhat bitter now, but a good salad garnish. We also enjoyed the tart flavor of Wood Sorrel growing along the trails we hiked. After eating and picking lots of blueberries we headed out on the Superior Hiking Trail to an overlook with a breezy view of Lake Superior. While resting at the overlook we tasted Juneberries from several nearby trees, hemming and hawing together about which berries tasted best. After hiking and canoeing our way back, we ended the day by enjoying our harvest along with wood-fired pizzas down at the Wolf Ridge Farm. The students remarked how much fun they had eating all afternoon, and I wished them well on their trip. We’ll have to ask what they ate when they return from the Quetico next week!
For more information on wild edible plants in your area, consult a wild edibles guide book or a local forager!
-Sarah Waddle, Wolf Ridge Naturalist