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2024 Webinar: Nibbling on Natives

Mon, March 25 @ 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT

March 25, 2024- Nibbling on Natives 

There’s an increasing interest among homeowners, property managers and others to utilize more native species in their landscaping, thanks to books like Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, which extol the virtues of native plants over exotic ornamentals for attracting and sustaining beneficial insects. Yet, for some people, this alone may insufficient motivation to “go native”. The fact that many of our native species are edible by people too provides an additional incentive for people to plant them in their yards and landscapes that might otherwise be insufficiently induced to do so for the ecological rationale alone. Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.), for example, are equally edible by animals (songbirds, e.g.) and people alike. The taste of the ripe fruit is like a cross between cherries and almonds (they’re all related species in the Rose family). Join Russ Cohen, expert forager and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, for a 60+ minute slide show featuring at least two dozen species of native edible wild plants suitable for adding to your own landscape, or nibbling on as you encounter them in other locales. Keys to the identification of each species will be provided, along with edible portion(s), season(s) of availability and preparation method(s), as well as guidelines for safe and environmentally responsible foraging. Russ will also include a few details regarding some native edible plants he has grown successfully from seed, and the partnerships he has made with conservation groups and others to add edible native plants to their landscapes.

Presenter Bio:

Russ Cohen is a naturalist and wild foods enthusiast based in Massachusetts. In highschool, he developed his passion for wild foods after taking a class and ended up teaching himself about fifty wild species and later added mushrooms to his expertise after a trip to the Soviet Union. He received his bachelor’s degree in land use planning from Vassar College and received a masters in Natural Resources and a law degree from The Ohio State University. Until retiring from state service, Russ was employed by the Riverways Program (now part of the Division of Ecological Restoration) of the Mass. Department of Fish and Game since 1988, and served as its Rivers Advocate from 1992 to 2015. Additionally, Russ can be found giving “leading walks and talks” about wild edibles or writing articles about his favorite native plants in the Northeast. Russ’ foraging book, Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten published by (and all proceeds benefiting) the Essex County Greenbelt Association, came out in June of 2004, and is now in its eighth printing.

Since his retirement, Russ is now playing the role of Johnny Appleseed for native edible species. He has set up a nursery (near his childhood home in Weston, MA) where he is growing over 1,000 plants, representing more than a third of the more than 190 species native to Northeast ecoregions that are edible by people. Many of these plants were propagated from seed Russ gathered himself. Russ is then collaborating with land trusts, municipalities, state and federal agencies, schools and colleges, tribal groups, organic farms and others, to plant plants from his nursery on appropriate places on their properties.


Mon, March 25
6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT
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