In this seven-month, 300-hour program, participants gain in-depth knowledge of edible plants and fungi along with the ability to share their knowledge with others. We cover sustainable harvesting, preservation and preparation of over 100 wild foods. Training includes:
- foraging in the woods and meadows of Western North Carolina
- cooking with chefs at several top Asheville restaurants
- assisting and eventually co-leading foraging tours
Graduates are equipped with the skills to feed themselves and their families, to apply for a position guiding for No Taste Like Home, or to take their expertise elsewhere to help spread awareness of wild foods and reconnect others to a true sense of home in nature.
We have been taking people “out to eat” for over twenty years. We run over 100 outings a season for over 1,000 participants every year. In order to connect with nature, we take a natural approach.
Like any skill, foraging can only be mastered through practice. Expert guidance can, to some extent, accelerate the process. But familiarity with the natural world takes time, just like it takes time, as Georgia O’Keefe puts it, to make a friend.
For this and other reasons, our approach, unlike that of most modern herbal medicine or academic programs, is almost completely nontechnical and experiential. This is no botany or mycology course. We train neither instructors nor beginners in the use of identification books, apps, or similar online tools. The only “field guide” we recommend is one with two legs.
In summary, we don’t just give people knowledge of the natural world. We bring them into relationship with it. That is how nature becomes home.
We cover identification, folklore and history of use, current uses, benefits, preparation and more. You’ll be able to answer questions like:
• Is it safe to touch or smell any plant or mushroom?
• How do you distinguish poisonous “look-alikes?”
• Are there any rules-of-thumb about edibility?
• What nutritional and medicinal value do wild foods have?
• Where and when should I go foraging? What do I take with me?
• How do I clean, store, serve, and preserve wild foods?
• Can I make a living harvesting and selling wild food?
• Does foraging hurt the woods?
Special topics include permaculture, fermentation, nature interpretation, nature therapy, tour safety procedures and first aid, working with children, foraging as a spiritual practice, and more. A 175-page training manual covers not only what to teach but more importantly, how to facilitate a transformative experience.
Our program instructors include Alan Muskat and our seven guides as well as a number of guest instructors:
• chef William Dissen
• naturalist Doug Elliott
• herbalist Ceara Foley
• permaculturalist Osker Brown
Our 2017 training runs March 22nd to October 22nd, including:
• every other Wednesday, 9-2
• alternate Wednesdays or every other Saturday, 9-1*
• a weekend retreat, July 28th-30th
The third component, assistant teaching, is designed to match our tour schedule. Trainees indicate their preference and we do our best to accommodate them.
We are based in Asheville. Sessions take place at various locations within 45 minutes of the city, including:
• Carver Edible Park
• Douglas Falls
• Asheville Botanical Gardens
• Montreat Conference Center
• Catawba Falls
• Omni Grove Park Inn
• Broad River Falls
• Laughing Frog Estate
• North Carolina Arboretum
• Pink Beds, Pisgah National Forest
• Mountain Gardens
• Lake Eden
• Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway
• Highland Lake Inn
Tuition is $2800. Payment plans and partial work trade available. Early bird price is $2500 if paid by January 15th. A $300 deposit due upon acceptance to complete enrollment.
Our 2017 program is full. To be notified of future programs, join our mailing list.
Images from previous trainings can be found here.
Last season I enjoyed slow walks with lots of pause to study on mountain paths, gathering leaves, berries, and roots high and low, fording the occasional stream to reach a reishi mushroom on a fallen log, and camaraderie with fellow students, all very supportive. A wide river of gifts and wisdom ran through the group, and I dipped luxuriantly in it.
Six months later, I can name, harvest, and prepare close to a hundred wild edibles. My palate is expanded. By next spring, there will be a spring in my step as I share with school-age children the wonder of wild foods.
This spring I traded in my computer for a foraging basket and my life changed. I quickly realized that this wasn’t just a learning exercise. My body changed and so did my attitude. Walking up steep slopes to in search of an elusive mushroom, digging roots and picking greens exercised my body in ways that didn’t seem like work. I lost five pounds and my body became toned. The foods themselves offered a bounty of nutrients and the peace of being in nature with my fellow foragers allowed any stress to melt away.
Now I am walking in the woods almost every day. My life is more grounded (pun intended). I challenge my mind and my body in ways that I haven’t in years. The quiet of the forest nourishes my spirit and the wild foods and exercise nourish my body. I am sleeping better than I have in years and I feel more connected to the natural world. I have a new attitude: more gratitude!