Nature Study Woods Park (Teens/Adults)

"Wildman" Steve Brill

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What You'll Get

This vast, wooded park is fantastic for foraging in mid-spring, and naturalist and foraging expert Violet Brill, America's First Lady of Foraging, no shrinking Violet, will show you what to eat, and how to harvest everything safely and ecologically during the course of this 2.5 hour tour.

May 26, 2019

Shoots will be at their best now. The growing tips of greenbrier, along with the developing young leaves, widespread throughout the woods, have a wonderfully piquant flavor, excellent for salads, and for any bland dish that needs some sparkle.

Once you try it, you'll agree that this is one of the best-tasting greens on Earth!

Another superb shoot is that of pokeweed. Poisonous raw, it's outstanding cooked, and the tour leader will tell you how to bring out the best of this Deep South standby.

Easier to prepare are the shoots of false Solomon's seal. You just pop them into your mouth. They taste like asparagus, only better.

Herbs and greens will be around too. These will include goutweed, which tastes like its relative, parsley, only better. Garlic mustard, with its sweet, pungent, garlicky flavor, will be at its best, with both leaves and flowers in season.

Ramps will also be rampant. This well-known member of the onion and garlic family will make its commercial relatives taste bland. Harvesting the leaves, which are about to die back, does no harm to this native species, as the bulbs, which will be left in the ground, will put up more leaves next spring.

Ramp Leaves
This great-tasting native species is so good, even celebrity chef know about it!

If there's been enough rain before hand, there's also an excellent chance of finding wine-cap stropharia mushrooms, which decompose the wood chips that line the trails, and a community garden adjacent to the park. They're amazingly good simmered with lemon juice, wine, nutmeg, and fennel, after which you cook them on high heat to drive off all the liquid they produce.


Prepared properly, this little-known but abundant spring mushroom is one of the best in the world!

Other possible mushrooms include dryad's saddle, superb marinated an baked, and chicken mushrooms, which taste better than chicken meat.

August 18, 2019

Summer herbs and greens will be doing great. Goutweed, which tastes like parsley, only better, will be growing in a community garden across from the park entrance. Lamb's quarters, which tastes like spinach, will be branching out in sunny places. Asiatic dayflower, which tastes like string beans, will be growing in partially shaded habitats, along with the basal (bottom) leaves of garlic mustard, great in pesto or baked into chips. The same plant also provides spicy seeds in needle-shaped pods after it dies in its second year.


Edible trees will be growing in the woods: Sassafras root is great for making tea and root beer, and it also flavors sweet dishes, while the young leaves make an outstanding thickener, used in Louisiana in gumbo. Black birch twigs contain oil of wintergreen (methyl salycilate), a tasty, low-dose non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. You can chew on the twigs, which relieve the pain of teething and cure bad breath, and use them for tea or to flavor puddings.

This is a great time for berries. Blackberries much better than the store-bought varieties will be ripe, as will elderberries, which taste like unsweetened raisins.


If there's been enough rain before hand, there's also an excellent chance of finding summer mushrooms. Wine-cap stropharia, chicken mushrooms, various boletes and russulas, and rooted oudimansiellas could be around.



  • Participants should be dressed for the weather, and be aware of very bad subway service. Trains are often canceled due to track work.
  • No sandals (there are mosquitoes, thorns and poison ivy). Everyone should have plastic bags for veggies and herbs, paper bags for mushrooms, which spoil in
  • Plastic, containers for berries from late spring through fall, water and lunch, and extra layers when it's cold. Digging implements and pocket knives are optional.
  • Dogs are permitted. Children are encouraged to attend.
  • There's no smoking whatsoever at any time.

$20 Ticket is for 1 person only. Accompanying Adult must purchase ticket separately.

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The Fine Print

Expiration varies.

  • Must be 13 or older to attend
  • Voucher valid only for date and time listed; may not be exchanged, altered, or redeemed for other dates, but may send a friend in place.
  • Must present CourseHorse confirmation email upon arrival.
  • Purchaser name must be provided at checkout; this information will be shared with CourseHorse and course provider for purposes of order fulfillment.
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  • Offer is not eligible for our promo codes or other discounts.
  • Note, additional equipment or materials may be required or included in purchase price, see course description for details.
  • Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services. Offer is not eligible for our promo codes or other discounts.

"Wildman" Steve Brill

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