It’s not every day you have the opportunity to step into the pages of a book, but next Saturday, if you live in Birmingham, you can — Chris Bennett, a.k.a. Forager Man, a.k.a. the author of Foraging the Southeast, is offering a class on foraging, and he still has spots open. Frankly, I’m jealous of anyone who gets to go (I’ll still be on the book tour) because, besides being an incredible forager (check out Chris’s Instagram, @foragerman, to get an idea of how he works), Chris is also passionate about sharing what he knows with others, and he’s a great teacher.
Okay, so … what’s foraging? It’s scavenging wild places, forests, farms and sometimes even city streets looking for edible plants. Chris finds plants in out-of-the-way places that can be harvested, and he recognizes the potential in plants that other people think of as weeds. Foraging not only exposes us to new local flavors (lots of local restaurants hire Chris to forage for specialty plants for their menus), but it also teaches us to look for beauty everywhere, not just the obvious places.
Foraging reminds me of some of my favorite books — you’ll find foraging in almost any novel about the outdoors (Katniss from The Hunger Games was definitely a forager as well as a hunter), and it even has a lot in common with Herbology and Potions classes from Harry Potter. (If you wear a wizard’s robe to class, I’m willing to bet Chris won’t make fun of you — he’s a lot more likely to award 10 points to Gryffindor.)
Joining the April 11 class should be a great jump-start into foraging, and the book (which comes out the same day) will help you dive in even more. Can’t make the class? You can buy the book at local bookstores anyway — call a local shop like Little Professor or Church Street and have them pre-order it for you. Foraging the neighborhood, buying a book from an independent shop, and enjoying the (literal) fruits of your labors — it doesn’t get any more local than that. To join the class, just visit the Chris Bennett, Forager website and sign up.
Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.