Student Life Editor
On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Washington College welcomed Dina Falconi, author, avid gardener, and permaculturist, to campus to talk to students and community members alike about wild foods.
The Foraging and Feasting talk, which was the first event of the year for the Center for Environment and Society, kicked off the year-long celebration for the 20-year anniversary of CES.
Dr. John Seidel, director for the Center for Environment and Society, gave a brief introduction to the CES 20 celebration through video because he was in the field with students.
“The vision was to engage students in hands-on projects throughout the region, learning by doing, and taking advantage of the remarkable place in which we live, including the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay,” Dr. Seidel said of the inspiration behind creating CES.
“Tonight’s speaker offers a great example of how, in a variety of settings, from pristine to disturbed, natural to urban, nature can provide things hidden from plain sight,” he said.
After an introduction from Dr. Bill Schindler, center director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, Falconi began talking about her own foraging methods and her book “Foraging and Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook.”
Falconi talked about her own wild garden, which she created and maintains on her property. She emphasized the importance of tracking plants and having a landscape that makes sense.
Her book, “Foraging and Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook” is just that — with anatomically correct drawings of plants and recipes detailing how to safely prepare each part of the plant to be eaten.
Falconi explained that the drawings had to be anatomically correct so readers could take the book, begin foraging themselves, and know exactly what they are looking for and what is safe to eat.
The book serves as a resource to encourage people to become good foragers and plant-literate.
“It’s not complicated, it just takes practice,” Falconi said about identifying plants.
“Part of the goal in creating this book is creating beautiful food,” she said, explaining that the more attractive the food looks, the more likely people are to want to eat it and then recreate it themselves.
She also explained that once people understand the function of a plant in a dish, they can begin to swap it out with what is familiar.
“How can we be stewards of the landscape if we don’t eat from it,” Falconi said, arguing that people will take care of the land better if their food comes from it because they will pay closer attention to what is being done to it.
“Her talk was so inspiring and her knowledge about wild foraging made me want to learn more,” Nicole Hatfield, a junior English major and intern at the Eastern Shore Food Lab, said.
“Her enthusiasm engaged the audience and she was able to truly convey her message that food is everywhere,” she said.
Hatfield explained that she became interested in foraging upon joining the campus garden club.
“I try to include wild foods into my own diet as much as I can. The food lab has helped me see how I can make simple eating habits manageable while living on campus,” she said.