Dickinsonians in the Wild: Foraging on the Farm

On Saturday October 6th, a group of Dickinsonians took to the wilderness to forage for their own food, relying only on their own survival skills and instincts to carry them through the afternoon.

Well, kind of.

Edward leading a foraging walk with Dickinson students
Dickinsonians at Wild Food at the Farm. Photo courtesy of Avery McGuire ’13.

The College Farm was thrilled to welcome alumni Avery McGuire ’13 and her husband Edward back to campus to host our October Edible Excursion at the College Farm. Avery and Edward led a foraging expedition through the fields of the College Farm, gathering ingredients for a Wild Edible feast prepared right on the farm. Students and staff alike joined Avery and Edward to collect ingredients for nettle tea, a green salad, and open-faced Danish sandwiches inspired by Avery’s years working as a forager in Copenhagen.

Attendees shared that it was fascinating to see plants that farmers typically remove as weeds transformed into something useful. For instance, the pigweed that student farmers spend hours removing was suddenly used as a salad green, and the nettle that plagues our workers while walking to the fields was boiled into tea. Student farmer Rachel Gross ’19 said that she was “elated to learn about the density of edible greens in common spaces and excited when I started to see them jumping out from the grass.” Students also shared that it was interesting to see that local foraged ingredients can have very similar tastes to more common imported foods, like the similarity of sorrel to lemon.

Wild Food at the Farm
Photo courtesy of Avery McGuire.

When asked whether they plan to incorporate foraging into their daily lives, students recognized the difficulties of finding spaces to forage in the United States. Avery expresses the same concerns about finding access to farms, and not knowing what chemicals plants have been exposed to. Luckily, our own Dickinson College Farm offers a safe space for student farmers to practice some foraging, and we are always happy to have a fewer nettles in the fields! Overall, students expressed that foraging for their own food helped them appreciate the availability of food right in their own backyard. We are grateful to Avery for coming back to share her knowledge with the Dickinson community!

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