Wild Wisdom

Wild Wisdom is a unique, multi-season outdoor & online series covering ethical wild food foraging, medicine-making, and craft! 

Launched in 2019 in partnership with the Wild Foodies of Philly, this 9-month in-person and online 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 with in-depth sharing on plants’ ecological, nutritional, medicinal, and cross-cultural usage, as well as an online intensive on at-home preparation.

The program includes course binder, field-friendly plant info cards, guest presenter visits on special topics, and in-class participant projects. Topics 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.

Registration for Wild Wisdom 2022 is closed.

Wild Wisdom 2022 classes will meet March – November for a total of 3 hours monthly:

In person: Classes will meet on the 3rd Saturday of the month* in person at the Farm at Awbury, 6336 Ardleigh St.  The AM class will run from 10:00 AM to Noon, and the PM class will run 1:00 to 3:00 PM.  Students will register for one or the other time slot.

OnlineThe cooking portion of the class will be online for all students on the 3rd Sunday of the month* from 10:00 to 11:00 AM.

Guest Presenters: In the case of guest presenters, we will meet as a full group for the full 3 hours, with no online cooking class to follow. 

*Classes will generally meeting on third Saturday and Sunday of the month, with a few exceptions due to holidays.  See registration page for full schedule.

WILD WISDOM is designed and taught by Alyssa Schimmel, along with support from community teachers and former Wild Wisdom Students. The program was founded in 2019 and developed in collaboration with Lynn Landes, founder of the Wild Foodies of Philly, an educational organization that was started in 2010 and Heather Zimmerman, Executive Director of Awbury Arboretum.

Alyssa Schimmel is a community herbalist, licensed massage therapist, gardener, grower, teacher, and forager passionate about sharing knowledge of regional food and medicine ways in community. She serves as the course designer and program lead of Many Hands Community Apothecary at The Farm at Awbury Arboretum,  a mutual-aid herbal education program and community medicine network. She previously served as Education Director of The Philadelphia Orchard Project where she developed the School Orchard Program serving 14 K-12 schools 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. She has also taught at institutions including Swarthmore College, Haverford College, The Village, and more.  Her training includes studies through Wild Ginger Community Herbal Center, Sky House School of Herbal Medicine, Human Path school, Mountain Gardens, and formal study through David Winston’s School of Herbal Medicine.

Questions?  Please contact Alyssa at wildwisdom@awbury.org.

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

“Thanks so much. It has been a fun and informative year!”

– Margaret, 2021

“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, 2019

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

– Dan, 2019

“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, 2019

“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, 2019

“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, 2019

“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, 2019

“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, 2019