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Where the Wild Things Are

Safe and fun foraging



Photo by 3 Foragers

It’s a familiar sight come spring: green lawns sprinkled with yellow dandelions. “When I look at my lawn in the spring and see all those dandelions waving back and forth, seeming to say, ‘Here I am, pick me,’ I’m so happy. It’s funny to me that people buy all these chemicals to eradicate them; they’re food that’s nourishing,” says Joan Palmer, director of the Institute of Sustainable Nutrition in West Granby. “They are so good after a winter of heavy eating. They get your body ready for work and play and are better than going to the grocery store for some pitiful greens that leave you unsatisfied.”

Indeed one person’s nuisance is another person’s nutrition.

From garlic mustard to wild autumn berries, from dandelions to fiddlehead ferns, there are many wild edibles in this corner of Connecticut. However, consulting an expert is essential since many non-edible plants look like edible plants. But with the proper training one can learn to forage for interesting and nutritious ingredients in a sustainable and ethical way. 

Many of those wild things are invasive plants and rather than pull them and throw them into landfills, Palmer says it’s better to take some and eat them. Each year the state spends upwards of $500 million, between private and public monies, to eradicate invasive species such as garlic mustard and wild autumn olive berries, according to the Connecticut Audubon Society. 

“I do not believe our woodlands could sustain everyone foraging. We are overpopulated and we have to put some limits on it, but that said, there are things that are abundant. Wild things are not hybridized and they tend to be much more nutrient dense,” Palmer explains.

Aside from dandelions, another favorite for foragers are wild autumn olive berries. Now an invasive species they first arrived on the East Coast from Asia as an ornamental plant in the 1830s. The bright red, somewhat sour berry can be turned into jam or fruit leather. Chockful of vitamins, they also make for a cheery addition to oatmeal.

While it might be difficult to overharvest autumn olive berries would-be foragers should be mindful when looking for wild things to eat. If there are more than ten plants in a stand don’t take more than ten percent. If there are fewer than ten plants in a stand, don’t harvest.

“Ramps are so hot that people I know and love will clear a whole hillside. You shouldn’t do that, some things really take a long time to grow,” says Palmer. 

Palmer recommends first-time foragers go out with experienced people and take classes such as those offered at the institute where you can learn kitchen medicine, making condiments, and general cooking.

Another must: always make sure to only pick plants growing where the soil is clean. Never eat anything growing in a pond where there is parking lot run-off, or downhill from a highway, or on a golf course, or even on your lawn if you use any kind of pesticides.

For some, mushroom hunting is the most thrilling thing to do as a forager. It is however something that must be done with the utmost care to avoid sickness or death. People must learn to positively identify a mushroom before eating it, warns Bill Yule, director of education for the CT Valley Mycological Society. “Every edible mushroom has a toxic look alike,” Yule cautions. Aside from the CT Valley Mycological Society, there is also the CT-Westchester Mycological Society. Both offer an education club, classes, and frequent walks to hunt for mushrooms.

Connecticut’s woods offer up a variety of edible mushrooms, from the elusive Morel and the King Bolete to what Yule calls the “foolproof four”—puffballs, oyster mushrooms, hen-of-the-wood, and chanterelles.

 “The most traditional way to learn is with a mentor. But the best way to learn is to join an organized society. Then you are going out with a group of people whose only focus is this subject.”


Foragers Unite 
Amateur mycologists from CVMS join guest Noah Seigel who spoke at the annual Ed Bosman Educational Day.

 

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Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Telephone: 120-333-25052
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More information

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View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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More information

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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Where:
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More information

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Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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More information

Show More...
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Norwalk Concert Hall
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
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More information

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Where:
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View map »


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Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
View map »


Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

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Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

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Join us while we hunt for the East Coast's best Dance Crew. Watch as crews for all ethnic backgrounds and styles of dance come together to compete for title of The Best Dance Crew! Hip Hop,...

Cost: Pre Sale $25.00 Day of Show $30.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 877-987-8764
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

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Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
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Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
Website »

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On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
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Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Formed in 1963 in Stamford, CT, The Fifth Estate was a central part of the garage rock movement. Remember NBC's 'Hullabaloo'? They performed their crackin' song 'I Just...

Cost: $28

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company at StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

More information

Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Evocation of light is ever present in the romantic and experiential landscapes of Ira Barkoff. His recent works convey the spontaneity and the maturity of the artist’s hand and dedication to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: 1953
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

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Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Laura from Olive My Skin will be joining us to talk about her lovely natural soaps, wood wick soy candles and skin care line, all proudly made in Connecticut. All Fair Trade, paraben free,...

Cost: free

Where:
The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: susan
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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