13 and older
This large wetland park offers vast foraging opportunities, even as winter approaches. We begin with a small, young woodland. It contains large quantities of field garlic, with leaves like chives and bulbs like onions or garlic. There's also garlic mustard, a garlic-flavored mustard green with a taproot that tastes like horseradish. Nearby grows sassafras, with a root you can use for tea, as a sweet seasoning, or for making root beer.
Then we circumnavigate Oakland Lake, checking out stands of sour-flavored curly (yellow) dock, bitter-savory dandelion greens, corn-flavored chickweed, and wintergreen-flavored black birch trees. Not much later, we'll find savory watercress, escaped from cultivation, in a small stream, and cabbage-flavored winter cress, never captured for culitvation — both members of the mustard family. Other spicy relatives, such as hairy bittercress and poor man's pepper, may turn up as well.
After lunch, we proceed to the marsh proper, where a stand of burdock root, normally very tenacious, yields with minimum effort because it grows in wet, composted soil. There are also sweet wild parsnips (outstanding in soups) nearby, growing hidden in the bushes. Then we'll find crab apple trees with the most remarkably sour fruit. Farther on, we'll find more roots in quantity: white-colored wild carrots, sweet wild parsnips, and immense, peppery-sweet common evening primrose. And with lots of rain beforehand and a little luck, the group may even find gourmet oyster mushrooms, fried chicken mushrooms, brick tops, and enoki mushrooms, emerging from trees, stumps, or wood chips.The 4-hour foraging tour of Alley Pond Park begins at 11:45 AM, at the Southeast corner of Springfield and Northern Blvds. in Douglaston, Queens.Notes:
- Participants should be dressed for the weather, and be aware of very bad subway service. Trains are often canceled due to track work.
- No sandals (there are mosquitoes, thorns and poison ivy). Everyone should have plastic bags for veggies and herbs, paper bags for mushrooms, which spoil in plastic, containers for berries from late spring through fall, water and lunch, and extra layers when it's cold.
- Digging implements and pocket knives are optional.
- Dogs are permitted. Children are encouraged to attend.
- There's no smoking whatsoever at any time.
If you can't attend the class you signed up for, please call or email "Wildman" Steve Brill a day before the start of the class. No-call/no-show creates an inconvenience to all participants since we can’t tell if absentees are having transportation issues, and this delays the start of the tour/class.
Kindly note that price posted is our suggested donation only.