Contrary to what well-meaning adults may have taught you as a kid, Rachael West says you can indeed eat certain wild things growing in your own backyard.
“You could borrow sugar from a neighbor instead of driving to the store,” she says. “[Foraging] kind of feels like my trees are my neighbors that I borrow things from.”
West, who has been studying medicinal herbs since 2002 and foraging since 2013, hosts an edible walk and dining series at Forest Garden Yurts, a new event venue, campsite and Airbnb in Reeds Spring. Guests dine in one of the site’s yurts designed by William Copperthwaite, who has been recognized as a pioneer in American yurt building.
West has slated her next event for Oct. 3, which will be a wild-infused pancake breakfast complete with one of her signature wild edibles walks around the venue’s forest. The walks typically last about 20 minutes and involve West pointing out where she finds ingredients, how to identify wild edible plants and what nutritional value they provide.
This pancake breakfast will conclude her 2020 dining series, but events will resume when the wild plants return in the spring. Guests must purchase tickets in advance online.
After the walk, attendees will get to enjoy pancakes made with Missouri spicebush, pine, hickory, maple and juniper gathered by West herself. Foraging the Ozarks, a book by wilderness expert Bo Brown, will also be available for purchase.
“Wild foraged and forest food are so different in each season, so we decided we need to have meals by season,” says Amanda Francis, Forest Garden Yurts owner. “It was a really simple start and we are really just following a natural progression.”
West says she hopes this event series will inspire people to care for the earth.
“If we want people to protect nature, they have to feel like nature’s got their back,” she says. “We’re not here to dominate it. We’re actually here to protect and be a part of it.”
Rachael West, eatingtheozarks.com
Forest Garden Yurts, 23732 MO-413, Reeds Spring, Missouri, forestgardenyurts.com