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Russ Cohen led another wild edible foods walk in the Alewife Reservation,
June 13, 2006
by Don Bockler, walk participant and FAR member
Russ Cohen led about twenty would-be wild food foragers on an plant identification walk in Alewife Reservation on June 13, 2006. The early evening weather was perfect for man and insects alike, but Russ found spots along the trail to keep the two life forms apart. Russ pointed out that many of the invasive species of Alewife Reservation are edible, and that a proper way to control the invasives would be for trail-walkers to eat them. Some wild foods like black locust (native in Virginia, but invasive in Massachusetts) and Japanese knotweed are seasonably edible, while others like stinging nettles and milkweed must be boiled to rid the plant of toxics. The biennial Common burdock is considered a "wellness plant" due to many of the healthful chemicals found throughout the plant. We sampled a few plants as we ambled along the trail, including wood sorrel and Dame's Rocket. Russ identified and described over 30 wild foods, including the relatively rare edible salsify and groundnut plants, for the participants. Russ Cohen suggested that we check out his website, http://users.rcn.com/eatwild/bio.htm, and/or book, Wild Plants I Have Known... and Eaten, for further information and recipes. Russ quickly sold the few copies of his book that he had brought to the walk.
Proper safety factors and conservation techniques for collecting samples were discussed at several places along the walk. This walk was co-sponsored by FAR, Mystic River Watershed Association through the Massachusetts Riverways/Adopt-A-Stream Program. Participants came from FAR, the Mystic River Watershed Association, the Sierra Club, and citizens from Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, and Belmont. The walk had been rescheduled from a rained-out date on the previous Thursday evening, and it was a part of the Biodiversity Days events.