The Afikomen Project

middle school feral apple trip

Coming Home to Nature’s Garden

 

Seifert morels 32

The Afikomen Project is a public wild foods education program. Our goal is to have, by 2030, every child in the United States be able to safely identify and harvest the ten most common wild foods in their area. We are moving towards that goal by training schoolteachers across the country to teach foraging.

The Afikomen Project is the first widespread foraging training initiative in the world. It is based on the well-known proverb, “give people fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish, and they eat for a lifetime.” We believe that being able to feed yourself from nature is, as much as math and literacy, a basic skill. By teaching children to forage “for food and profit,” we are promoting national food security and establishing sustainable local economies at the same time.

 

 

AshevilleGO cucumberSince hunger is closely related to poverty, The Afikomen Project establishes local markets for surplus produce, and this, in turn, funds the project. These wild foods markets serve as a ready outlet for young foragers’ “catch of the day,” building their self-worth and regional food independence at the same time. In other words, whatever food the children don’t use to feed their families is sold at market. These wild foods markets are staffed by project-trained experts to ensure proper identification and quality control. Proceeds from the sale of this produce, in turn, pay for future classes.

beauty berryThis local, closed-loop economy is based on the quintessential renewable resource: the bounty of nature. It offers a lasting, effective solution to both food scarcity and unemployment. Foraging feeds people, not through continued dependence on unsustainable industrial agricultural systems, but through community self-reliance. Foraging doesn’t just create jobs; it creates self-employment. This is true American independence.

Being an outdoor education and nutrition program, The Afikomen Project addresses childhood obesity, diabetes prevention, nature deficit disorder, and more. Through foraging, children gain sunshine, exercise, wholesome food, and a sense of home. They contribute both to their family and their community, building their sense of self-worth in the process. Or would you rather our children just play video games?


I praise the mushrooms for keeping my kids off their iPads and game boys for a whole day!!!
Jackie Siegel, The Queen of Versailles

wisteriaThe Afikomen Project’s pilot city is Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is situated in The Katuah Bioregion, the richest temperate ecosystem on earth. With over one hundred common local wild edibles, all free for the taking, Asheville sits in a veritable “Garden of Eden.” Yet Asheville also has the third worst hunger problem in the country. The Afikomen Project addresses this incongruity with an obvious, permanent solution: by empowering local families to feed and fend for themselves.

lobster mushrooms

The Afikomen Project’s initial market is The Asheville Wild Foods Market. The market sells wholesale to over 75 restaurants and retail to the general public through its tailgate outlet.

The market offers a Community Supported Permaculture (CSP) program that is similar to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangement. Members place a standing order for a certain quantity of whatever is collected in a given category each week, e.g., 5# wild mushrooms and 5# wild greens. The other categories are flowers, fruit, nuts, seeds, and roots (see product list by type).

Celeste mulberries editThe Afikomen Project is currently working Asheville Middle School, Hall Fletcher Elementary, the YMCA, and Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County (see photos on this page and here). We have been invited to work with Owen High School and the four other Asheville city elementaries, and we are seeking funding to expand to all five county high schools as well. Donations are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact us. For more about The Afikomen Project and why we need it, read “The Key to Ending Hunger.” For an audio interview and slide show about wild foods in general, see here.

 

The Afikomen Project is endorsed by:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, world-renowned pioneer and best-selling author in the field of integrative medicine

kids

  • James A. Duke, PhD, thirty-year economic botanist for the USDA, advisor to The World Health Organization and The National Cancer Institute, and author of over twenty-five books, including The Green Pharmacy and Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants
  • Nathalie Dupree, author of fifteen cookbooks and host of nine cooking shows, three-time James Beard award-winner, Grande Dame d’ Escoffier, and 2013 French Master Chefs Woman of the Year

Amadeus

  • Jeremy Seifert, Director, GMO OMG, is filming his next documentary on our work
Mike Keenan, Director, Hokitika Wild Food Festival
  • Dr. Douglas Schar, ten-year herbal editor for Prevention
  • Cindy Threlkeld, Executive Director, MANNA Food Bank (which distributes over 10 millions pounds of food a year through 231 partner agencies)

coral

Rainbow sniff

  • Sow True Seed is dedicating their upcoming “wild weed collection” to the project

Trinity

  • Katie Button, Chef/Owner, Curate
  • Andrea Reusing, Chef/Owner, Lantern

kids and honeys

passionfruit maypop

Sovah with mushroom

  • Billy Jonas, internationally-known singer songwriter, who is helping to integrate creative arts into our foraging curriculum
  • six attorneys at Alston & Bird LLP, working pro bono to register No Taste Like Home as a 501c3 nonprofit and to assist in addressing and resolving any regulatory and liability concerns that may arise