Summer Opportunities to Connect People to Place through Wild and Cultivated Food
Summer offers learning opportunities that integrate culinary arts with botany and agriculture. In addition to many, year-round offerings of culinary workshops and resources in Western Massachusetts, seasonal events such as guided wild plant walks can open up new doorways of interests and add local, fresh ingredients to your cooking practice.
Whether you are interested in wild plant walks, gardening, farming, or cooking, there are ample opportunities for you and your family to connect with your community through food and plants. Here are several community-based educational resources and events to support your interests while engaging in your community this summer:
WILD PLANT WALKS
Wild plant walks intersect culinary arts with botany. Learning to recognize the species which grow around you is the first step towards cultivating wild edible plants. Wild plant walks take place all summer long through various organizations, teaching people how to identify plants. One such walk will take pace on Saturday, August 6, from 9am to 12pm at Just Roots/Greenfield Community Farm. Ted Watts will guide this all ages walk. Register online. 413-325-8969. 34 Glenbrook Drive. Greenfield, MA. (DONATION)
Culinary workshops offer opportunities for learning about culture through food. The Italian Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts, for example, periodically offers culinary classes, teaching participants to make traditional Italian foods such as gnocchi and tortellini. Different Drummer’s Kitchen Company also offers cooking classes. River Valley Co Op occasionally provides workshops, covering various skills of nutrition and wellness.
On Thursday, August 11, from 6:15-8:45pm, Different Drummer’s Kitchen Company will offer a workshop on cooking with peaches. Instructor Barbara Morse will teach participants how to grill and roast peaches to create such recipes as grilled chicken with peach glaze, peach soup, peach bread pudding, and much more. Cooking workshops such as these connect participants with their environment by focusing on ingredients which are seasonally available. “Pick Your Own” opportunities at local farms can be a great way to participate in food cultivation if you are not a gardener or farmer. While this year we are experience a shortage of peaches, many other PYO crops are thriving this year, including blueberries!
Gardening and farming opportunities allow community members to forge a greater connection to food and to place, by participating in each step of cultivation. The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Summer Conference on August 12-August 14 at UMass will also connect attendees with place and community by bringing together local farmers. Workshops at the conference will cover topics ranging from horse care, beekeeping, fermentation, the relationship between plants and soil, farming as a business venture, urban agriculture, hoop houses, and much more. NOFA also offers a teen conference, for learners between the ages of 13 and 17. Hands-on activities will teach teens about farming, horticulture, culinary arts, and sustainability practices.