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Central Park (Teens/Adults)

at "Wildman" Steve Brill - Central Park

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Central Park, Manhattan
Central Park W & W 72nd St
At Central Park W
New York, New York 10023
$20 Ticket is for 1 person only
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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 13 and older
Average Class Size: 35

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this nature class:

January 2, 2020

Thanks to its varied habitats and combination of native and introduced species, Central Park is a great place for edible and medicinal wild plants, even in the winter, as you'll see if you attend this special City Kids Home School Coop tour, where all adults must be accompanied with kids.

Herbs, greens, fruits, and nuts will all be in season simultaneously: While most nut trees are already out of season, Central Park's ginkgo trees will be at their peak. Inside a malodorous orange fruit you'll find a white, almond-shaped kernel with a soft green nut inside. This Chinese delicacy tastes like a combination of green peas and Limburger cheese. Sold in health food stores and advertised on TV, Ginkgo biloba improves circulation and immune function.

American persimmon is smaller that the commercial Asian variety, it has way more flavor. But you have to wait until it's ugly and ripe before you bite into it, or it will taste terribly astringent. This is the last wild fruit of the season to ripen, but it's so good, it's well worth the wait, and there should even be some left under the trees in Jan.

Another "fruit" is the pod of the Kentucky coffee tree, growing a few minutes walk north of the Boathouse, just East of the persimmon trees. The seeds inside the inedible pods and on the ground make the world's best-tasting caffeine-free coffee substitute, even though this leguminous tree isn't related to coffee. It's also an unknown but outstanding seasoning to use in chocolate desserts.

Sassafras is another tree that grows in thickets throughout the park, and it's in season in the winter. You can boil the taproots of the invasive saplings (which park workers weed out) to make a tea, and chill the tea and add sparkling water and sweetener to make root beer. You can also use the outer layer of the taproot as a spicy seasoning. It tastes like a combination of root beer, anise, and cinnamon.

The common spicebush is an outstanding bush that's in season all year. You use the twigs to make a tea, which tastes a little like allspice

We could also find cold-resistant leafy green vegetables on this tour. They include chickweed, which tastes like corn on the cob, garlicky garlic mustard, and field garlic, which you use like chives.

Given enough rain beforehand and a generous helping of luck, gourmet oyster mushrooms and Japanese enoki mushrooms may be emerging from trees and stumps.

Please Note:

  • 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.
  • Please bring plastic bags for vegetables and herbs, paper bags for mushrooms, drinking water, and a pen (to sign in).
  • Dogs are permitted. Children are encouraged to attend.
  • There's no smoking whatsoever at any time.

School Notes:
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.

Still have questions? Ask the community.

Refund Policy
Participants can cancel the night before an event and get a refund.


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Questions & Answers (3)

Get quick answers from CourseHorse and past students.

Question from Regina M.
Can we bring a baby?
Answer from Brenda L. CourseHorse StaffCourseHorse Staff
Hi Regina, yes you can.
Question from Wendy
Do I need to purchase a ticket for 7 year old?
Answer from Brenda L. CourseHorse StaffCourseHorse Staff
Hi Wendy! Steve loves having kids on his tours. It’s half-price for them (you'll pay it at the location) and he would like to know in advance if you're coming with a kid. By the way, the books which Steve brings on all tours where he can park near the meeting place, are free for kids. Hope this helps!
Question from Wendy
Is it okay to bring a child? And when is the best time to go?
Answer from Kristle C. CourseHorse StaffCourseHorse Staff
Hi there! Yes, you can bring a child and as its the peak of the season, so it's a good time to go.

Reviews of Classes at "Wildman" Steve Brill (79)

(79 Reviews)
Central Park (Teens/Adults)
Reviewed by marisa F. on 5/27/2019
It was the best ever course I had done, I learned a lot about foraging, I advise anyone to do so, there are lots of things to forage in the park anywhere and Steve Brill is the best, very knowledgable funny a true comediante, I sure will go to others foraging trips with him again
Central Park (Teens/Adults)
Reviewed by Molly H. on 10/8/2018
Fabulous! He’s great with kids and super knowledgeable. Would do it again
Central Park (Teens/Adults)
Reviewed by Anonymous on 9/25/2017
Class was great! Instructor was extremely knowledgable and had a sense of humor (sometimes a little "yuck yuck" but hey he was trying). Appreciated that he went through the plants on nutritional properties, as well as medicinal. With recipes and sometimes snacks to boot. I would love to do it again in another season to see what else is up there in Central Park.
Central Park (Teens/Adults)
Reviewed by Gideon G. on 8/29/2017
My wife and I are glad that we took this tour and recommend it highly. Around 25 people participated in our tour, which meant we were sometimes standing in the back row, but Mr. Brill and his daughter spoke loudly and clearly, and showed photos and sketches on an iPad and notebook in addition to passing around samples of each plant, so everyone was able to hear the explanations of the various flora we encountered. Mr. Brill is an entertaining and informative guide with a knack for story-telling and he was popular with the kids on our tour, of which there were a half-dozen. The kids also enjoyed running around with Mr. Brill's daughter looking for berries or tossing a ball while their elders plodded along the trails. The walking itself was not strenuous - several participants even brought baby strollers - but there were a few staircases to navigate. After the tour, Mr. Brill offered some of his books for sale, and we purchased two of them: one about foraging with kids, and one about edible plants of the New York area.
Central Park (Teens/Adults)
Reviewed by Carol J. on 7/17/2017
"Wildman" Steve Brill was a wonderful guide. He has a lot of patience and wealth of knowledge to share about native plants. Take his class if you are curious about your native world and be prepared to bring home and cook a lot of fascinating plants.

School: "Wildman" Steve Brill

Foraging expert Steve Brill has shared his foraging wisdom at schools, museums, parks departments, environmental organizations, and with scout troops since 1982. He’s written three books and an app, stars in a DVD and maintains a website.

His History with Foraging 
As part of his exercise regime,...

Read more about "Wildman" Steve Brill

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