Weeds are the Rodney Dangerfields of the plant kingdom: they don’t get any respect. Gardeners rarely have anything nice to say about weeds, and many of us who garden go to extreme lengths to keep these wild growers out of our lawns and gardens. But take a walk with Vermont herbalist Kelley Robie of Horsetail Herbs, and your perspective on the common weed will change. In fact, you’re likely to take a second look at all of the wild plant life you see.
During the summer vacation season at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Kelley leads the weekly Wild Edibles walk, a meandering stroll of about an hour’s duration around a small section of the resort village. With Kelley’s expert guidance, this walk that is accessible for everyone offers a look at numerous potential edibles found in flower gardens, forest patches, and around stormwater drainage areas.
In a chatty session indoors prior to the walk, Kelley reviews some of the common weeds that can be incorporated into recipes, like dandelions and clover. She also reviews edible wild growing plants that may be familiar to anyone who spends time outdoors, like the fern fiddleheads and wild leeks found in early spring in the Northeast. She discusses which parts of a plant to harvest, and there’s even some taste testing.
While it’s all in good fun, a note of caution is necessary. Kelley emphasizes that anyone interested in wild edibles should be sure to use a field guide to properly identify all plants before eating. Two popular guides are Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants and Thomas Elias’s Edible Wild Plants. For your own safety, you want to be confident that you are making a proper identification of a wild edible that is safe to consume.
At the end of this fun and interesting workshop, each participant receives a sheet with recipes that use wild edible ingredients in everything from a tasty casserole to savory pesto.
Back to those dandelions. Tender young leaves and flower petals can be added to salads, and sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and lemon or balsamic vinegar. The young flowers can be made into wine and jellies, and dipped in batter and fried as fritters. From lawn or field, to table!
The Wild Edibles Walk is just one of the health and wellness classes that Smugglers’ Notch Resort offers to guests in summer. Take a look at these classes that range from aromatherapy to yoga, and begin planning your relaxing moments at Smugglers’!