The Afikomen Project

middle school feral apple trip

Coming Home to Nature’s Garden

We aspire to see knowledge of natural food being taught in schools
as commonly as reading, writing and mathematics.

Rene Redzepi

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. As of 2016, we have embarked on Phase I, a pilot program in Asheville, NC, and seeking funding for Phase II: developing foraging curriculum materials and a science teacher continuing education program.

AshevilleGO cucumber

The Afikomen Project is the first widespread foraging training initiative in North America. 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, eliminating food deserts, and establishing sustainable local economies, all at the same time.

beauty berry

Since 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 along with regional food networks.

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.

jewelweedThis 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 agricultural systems, but through community self-reliance. Foraging doesn’t just create jobs; it creates self-employment. This is true American independence.

juniper-chicken

By foraging, children gain sunshine, exercise, wholesome food, and a sense of home. In this natural way, The Afikomen Project addresses childhood obesity, diabetes, nature deficit disorder, and much more. Children contribute both to their family and their community, building their sense of self-worth in the process. Or would you rather our children 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 100 common local wild edibles, all free for the taking, Asheville sits in a veritable “Garden of Eden.”

At the same time, Asheville also has one of the worst childhood hunger problems in the country. The Afikomen Project addresses this incongruity with an obvious, permanent solution: by empowering local families to feed and fend for themselves.

The Afikomen Project has worked with Asheville Middle School, Hall Fletcher Elementary, Carolina Day School, and the Asheville YMCA (see photos on this page and here). We have been invited to work with Owen High School and the four other Asheville city elementaries as well.

For more about The Afikomen Project, why we need it, and why the name, read “The Key to Ending Hunger.”

The Afikomen Project is endorsed by:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, world-renowned pioneer and best-selling author in the field of integrative medicine, who will be writing the foreword to our upcoming book
  • Mark Bittman, James Beard award-winning author of How to Cook Everything
  • Dan Barber, James Beard Best Chef in America (2009), Time 100 Most Influential People (2009), serves on the Presidential Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
  • 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

coral

  • 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
  • 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

beauty berry

Rainbow sniff

  • Jeanie Martin, Board Member, Transition Asheville

kids

  • Buchi Kombucha is dedicating their next flavor (as part of their “Intentional” series) to the project
  • Sow True Seed is dedicating their upcoming “wild weed collection” to the project
  • Katie Button, Chef/Owner, Curate

Trinity

  • Andrea Reusing, Chef/Owner, Lantern

kids and honeys

passionfruit maypop

Amadeus

  • Billy Jonas, internationally-known singer songwriter, who is helping to integrate creative arts into our foraging curriculum
  • 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

all images by No Taste Like Home