Wild Wisdom

“Wild Wisdom” at Awbury Arboretum

A unique, year-long series during which participants learn to forage wild edible, medicinal, and craft plants.

Launched in 2019 in partnership with the Wild Foodies’ of Philly, this 12-month program is designed to introduce participants to the most common 100+ wild edible, medicinal, and craft plants of the Philadelphia bio-region. Monthly sessions include in-class and in-field time to botanically I.D., gather, and harvest useful plants as well as include hands-on preparation time to process introduced plants into various food, medicinal, and craft preparations. The program includes seasonal off-site field trips,  guest presenter visits, and in-class participant projects. Topics will include: botany, introduction to regional ecology, tools of the trade, making of medicinal preparations, spice blends, salads, dressings, main dishes, nut processing, tree tapping, intro to mushroom foraging, and more! This program is geared toward those looking to grow ever-closer to the region’s wild sources of food and medicine and those committed to sharing this knowledge with others.

Monthly classes will meet at the Francis Cope House (1 Awbury Rd, Phila, PA).

2020 Class dates:

Saturdays – Jan 11th, Feb 8th, and March 14th – 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM 

Wednesdays – April 22nd, May 13th, June 10th, July 8th, Aug 12th, Sept 9th, Oct 14th, Nov 11th, and Dec 9th – 6:00 to 9:00 PM

Registration for 2020’s program is full.  Please contact programs@awbury.org to be added to the waiting list.

Keep an eye out for future foraging-related events at Awbury Arboretum.  In the meantime, check out the Wild Foodies of Philly and consider joining one of their Meetup events.

WILD WISDOM is designed and facilitated by:

Lynn Landes is the founder of The Wild Foodies of Philly, an educational organization that was started in 2010.  Its mission is to learn more about our wild world and to share that information with the public. Lynn created a resource website at www.WildFoodies.org that contains a large reservoir of information, much of which has been designed by Lynn to facilitate ease of understanding of the more that 200+ edible, medicinal, and fiber plants thriving in the local region.  Through their meetup of over 4,000 members, the Wild Foodies have conducted hundreds of tours and hosted events for the public, schools, colleges, and other organizations, some of which have been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other news media outlets.

Alyssa Schimmel is a community herbalist, gardener, grower, teacher and forager passionate about sharing knowledge of regional food and medicine ways in community. She works as Education Director of The Philadelphia Orchard Project, and has collaborated with Awbury Arboretum teaching medicine making to youth of the Teen Leadership Program, catering seasonal dinners alongside Chef Gail Hinson, and teaching medicine making and wild foods classes through Wild Foodies. Her training includes studies through Centro Ashe Community Herbal Center, Sky House School of Herbal Medicine, Mountain Gardens, and formal study through David Winston’s School of Herbal Medicine.

Heather Zimmerman is the Program Director at Awbury Arboretum where she designs and manages over a dozen public programs and produces the arboretum’s public events. She has worked previously as a horticulture educator for Penn State Extension and several historic houses in the Philadelphia region. She is a graduate of the Barnes Foundation Horticulture and Landscape Design Program, a board member for the Philadelphia Orchard Project and teaches beginning wild edible identification and cordage making to youth. An avid nature lover, wild foodie, gardener, and wilderness survival aficionado.

What 2019 Wild Wisdom Students have to say about the course:

“The Wild Wisdom course helped re-introduce me to the plant biodiversity of the region. I grew up in the area but never thought much about the flora surrounding me, let alone the potential to use wild native and invasive plants for food or natural dyes. The course oriented me to local sensibility of ubiquitous plants and drew me closer to the landscape. I also loved the environs of Awbury Arboretum and the Cope House. Visiting the arboretum monthly over the year was a highlight and becoming familiar with what was in bloom or what had already reached its prime was an intimate way to get to know a hidden gem in Philadelphia. The course has given me tools to decipher the regional landscape,harvest and prepare plants for consumption, and think more creatively about plant based dietary innovation.” – Eliss

“Great class!! Liked it so much, I’ll be taking it again!” – Dan 

“This class has uncovered so many wonderful plants that have been right in front of me! 

Now when I go for a walk in the city or a hike in the woods, I can identify and collect so many edible plants. We learned lots of different ways to use foraged plants including infused honey, wild green salads, medicinal tinctures and floral infusions.” – Kristen 

“The teachers are incredibly knowledgeable and Awbury Arboretum is the perfect location since we could simply walk out the door and and identify and harvest plants. The cook-off was an event we all thought would be difficult , but every group came together and made a fabulous dinner. My fellow classmates were creative and fun and added their own knowledge and expertise; group projects such as cooking and making medicines (tinctures, concoctions and more) were a joy! Plus we got to take lots of our creations home.” –  Shanna 

“The Wild Wisdom alchemy; one part veteran field knowledge Instructor, one part classically trained wild medicine guide, two parts student discovery and experimentation. The Wild Wisdom course is far from conventional but incorporates a variety of learning styles from visual to auditory to physical for a holistic approach to this fascinating and vast world.”   – Daniel 

“Wild Wisdom is a wonderful nature course. I learned so much from this class – medicinal uses, crafting uses and the history of the plants. The class structure contains a “lecture” portion and practical hands on activity. It doesn’t matter if you know a lot or know nothing at all – this class is awesome!” – Paulina

“The Foraging Intensive course has been amazing!  I don’t remember enjoying a course I’ve taken as much as this one! It’s incredible how much we covered during the last several months.  Each class is packed with so much information. All of the instructors – Lynn, Alyssa and Heather have been so generous sharing their extensive knowledge and experience.  My classmates brought a wide range of experience that helped to expand my learning and appreciation for the class. This foraging intensive is well worth the investment. I would highly recommend it. I look forward to more classes with these wonderful teachers!” – Catherine