I am a forester, Permaculture Design Specialist, first aider, animist, and honest-to-goodness flower child. After graduating with a B.Sc. in Forestry, I ran the largest private tree planting program in Ontario, Canada for five years, then built a first aid training business for 15 years.
Missing the tranquility of the forest, I took a course in permaculture design at The Living Centre just outside of London, Ontario. I am now building a business — that of educating the public about the importance of finding and harvesting the natural foods that are available in any forest. Now I am a Permaculture Design Specialist and my new venture is called Let’s Eat A Forest!
Many years ago, sitting at a large drafting table, staring out at a municipal airport, I felt unfulfilled and incomplete. I remembered a friend telling me that he was starting university, taking forestry. I was intrigued, so I also enrolled. Fast forward 4 years, and I was a capital F Forester! For several years, I taught forestry, worked in a greenhouse, and ran a program that put over 8 million trees in the ground.
Fast forward again, and the industry was in trouble. I started my own business teaching first aid. For 15 years, it was fulfilling, but again, that industry began to experience problems. Now what? Well, upon serious contemplation, I realized I missed the forest.
Two years ago, I enhanced my education with a permaculture design course, and in 2017 I started my business.
Now to combine forestry with permaculture, I decided to focus on guiding people through the woods, showing them perennial edible plants, giving them instructions on harvesting responsibly, and blogging about becoming a true forest forager.
In 2016, I was a landscaper and gardener at a large estate just outside of London, Ontario. I had hands-on experience planting, pruning and cutting trees, maintaining a pond, cutting brush as well as lawns, laying sod, painting and staining, and getting quotes for building a shed.
This experience led to a contract to do an edible garden in a shaded urban setting. The soil was sandy, each site was only 17 x 5 feet long, and they had to have aesthetic appeal. After much remediation and planting in the fall, the project blossomed and now is a beautiful, edible, landscape with strawberries, fiddleheads, aronia berries, honeysuckle fruit, catmint, daylilies, and violets. Because all of these plants are perennials, they are planted once, pruned once a year, and beautiful throughout.
We acquired more projects in woodlots outside London. Now we harvest rosehips, wild leeks, small but delicious strawberries, violets, summer greens for salads, berries, nuts, and seeds.
WHAT ARE EDIBLES?
I’m sure you’ve heard of fiddleheads. They are the baby fronds of ostrich ferns that grow in the forest. Fried or boiled, with butter or in a salad, they provide wonderful nutrients, variety, and taste to your meals.
You see daylilies growing in many yards and along country roads. They are colourful — and SOME are edible! The petals are rich in micronutrients and minerals, and taste sweet. *Quick warning, though. Don’t eat anything you’re not sure of, don’t eat plants that may have chemical applications, and ALWAYS ask your neighbour before beheading all of their landscape!
My team and I will help educate you on your plant choices, foraging opportunities, and what to plant for your own consumption or to give away. We are different from other permaculture companies — we focus on forests!
*Always ask before eating. Leave the kids at home if they like to put things in their mouths. Some mushrooms and plants look yummy, but can be deadly!”