Dandelion Hunter: Review and Giveaway

Disclosures: There are Amazon affiliate links from which I may make a commission. The giveaway prizes are provided courtesy of Globe Pequot Press who also provided me a review copy.

Springtime brings with it a new abundance, and not just in the garden. From stinging nettles to ramps to Japanese knotweed, useful and edible wild plants may be growing right under your nose -- even if you live in a city. 

In "Dandelion Hunter," Rebecca Lerner of the blog First Ways recounts her experiences as an urban forager in Portland, Oregon. Even in the fecund Pacific Northwest, she encountered an unexpected learning curve. In her first attempt to subsist solely on wild foods, she made the mistake of assuming that nature would offer itself up like a buffet of ready-to-harvest treats. It didn't. 

Realizing that a diet dependent on wild foods required more foresight than popping out to the local grocery store, she deepened her knowledge of edible plants, building a pantry of foraged foods. Along the way she encountered a charming menagerie of Portlandian characters, fellow foragers, artists, herbalists. With the help of these wise souls, her relationships to the plants evolved. Going beyond basic edibles, Lerner explored various plants' usefulness as medicine and tools. 

Through Lerner's eyes Portland unfolds like a pop-up book of useful plants. What to the lay person's eye might look like weeds emerging from a crack in the pavement or the impenetrable thicket of an overgrown yard becomes a virtual Garden of Eden. The plants leap out to her, speak to her. Indeed, by the end, they become nearly human. After reading this book, you may think of your next trip to the park as more of a family reunion.

It's an engaging read, and I want you to enjoy it. Lucky for you, I have not just one but two copies to get into your eager little hands. Here's what you do: 

Simply scroll down and leave a comment, telling of a foraging experience. One lucky commenter will win a copy.

But wait, there's more: Click here to tweet about this post, or pin this post on Pinterest (make sure the book cover image gets pinned so we can find it). All comments, tweets and pins must be logged by midnight PDT, May 3.

dandelions! roar!

My dad used to be a groundskeeper for a major golf course, so the last thing he wanted to do at home was cut the grass. With very little effort we cultivated a beautiful field of waist high dandelions. It drove the neighbors wild and inspired a lifelong love of the 'weed'. Over the years, I have consumed all parts as often as possible. I love the earthy tea from the roots. So happy to see such a lovely book has been written, and that such a beautiful useful plant is being appreciated.

Started a 'suburban' fruit

Started a 'suburban' fruit picking project last year (vergersdecheznous.wordpress.com) and it was so eye-opening to see fruits I never knew could grow here in Montreal (asian pears, peaches). We also have wild strawberries in our yard and tapped our maple trees this year for syrup. At the moment, violets are prolific here so we'll be foraging those!

I made dandelion wine last

I made dandelion wine last year. It was fun!

Wild Chives

My favorite thing to forage for growing up was wild chives. I would go straight home after picking them and make a chive sandwich.

My foraging has mostly

My foraging has mostly consisted of dandelions...I do want to get a larger amount this year to try some wine-making. I also need to get out there a little earlier than in past years so I can try using the greens in some salads too.

apricots

There is an old and very robust apricot tree on a vacant lot three blocks from my house. I love "foraging" it each June!

Figuring out that the

Figuring out that the stinging nettle in my yard was good for something!

My 4 year old and I just

My 4 year old and I just picked violets for his favorite jelly!
We use dandelions in cookies, and we are always on the look out for apples and berries! I found my first elderberries last summer. I'd love to find a few nut trees this year!

Foraging

I've been looking closely at the "weeds" in my backyard and am "cultivating" dandelions for dandelion wine.

hiking with wintergreen

I love to learn about wild edibles. I always enjoy hiking and chewing on some wintergreen as I pass it by.

Foraging Adventures

I am very much looking forward to learn more about urban foraging, my most recent experience was making dandelion honey, which turning out amazing :)

Milkweed Thistles are next on the menu

Yay! I've been so excited for this book. My most recent foraging experience was a trip to Mt. Tamalpais with my daughter to collect fir tips...we've been turning them into iced tea to take on expeditions.

My only experience is

My only experience is mushrooms and berries!

Win a Copy of Dandelion Hunter

My spring favorite is fiddleheads, but I feel a little guilty snapping them.

mushroom hunting for the win

i remember living in the northern canadian gulf islands and going mushroom hunting every thursday morning in the rainy season. idyllic to have to slow down and adjust your vision to spot the little treasures.

Foraging just got on my radar

I just took an interest in foraging this week. It started with a simple question about dandelion wine and wild mushrooms. I am now thoroughly fascinated with the subject. Since it is spring the earth has started to open up to me and reveal her bounty. I look forward to adding this book to my reading list.

Totally NEED this book!

This author lives not far from where Dah Hubz & I do, so this would be an invaluable resource for us. We are living off our tiny suburban lot & what we can wild forage, in these tough economic times. One of our best wild foraging experiences is gathering edible horse chestnuts every fall in a local cemetery. We have even shown some of the homeless who frequent it, how to collect & cook the nuts for eating (there is plenty to go around). It can be a bit of a challenge at times there, tho, since we have to get to the nuts before the large population of squirrels beat us to it. Many times, while collecting, we have squirrels lobbing half eaten nuts at us from the tree branches above. Still, worth every minute! As a celiac, I am able to dry the nuts and use them for flour.

Foraging

In the past we have foraged for nuts, berries, and plants. Our favorites include blackberries-which grow within 50 or so feet of our front door, mushrooms-hubby's favorite, and wild onions-great with scrambled eggs. These are all easy for beginners to start with but there are precautions to be sure. You have to know your 'shrooms-the wrong one will make you sicker than a dog. Wear long sleeves when berrying. You will be tempted to wear a short or no sleeve shirt when it's really hot but thorns are meant for berry bushes-not your arms, legs or other parts. We usually eat these fresh but if there are enough, we can jam. Dandelion will be the next foraged jam to add to the panty. I'm planning to make some this weekend.

YEA! To the Dandy - Lions!

Still loving the Dandy Lions! Gotta get into the groove to record my acoustic folk song about foraging them that I wrote years and years ago! Can't wait to read this book!!!

tweeted it - blogger posted it - liked it on facebook - g+'d it!

Love this! My Hungarian

Love this!
My Hungarian grandmother used to take my brother and I on long walks when we were very young, walks that took us out of our subdivision, thru a golf course, to a tiny wooded area where we'd fill our sand pails full of wild blackberries.

When I was a kid, my mom used

When I was a kid, my mom used to take me and my sister out to find asparagus in the ditches, and we'd pick dandelion greens out of the lawn for salads. I wish I had the knack for finding asparagus my mom had!

Nettles, ramps, and morels

Nettles, ramps, and morels are my standbys, but I am constantly broadening my foraging horizons. Red clover is great for tea.

Backyard Foraging

Pink clover, violets, & lambs quarter. When foraging, pick sparingly, don't wipe out the population of any one item....or else, none for the critters, and eventually, none for you.

Forager wannabe

I am entranced with foraging, but, so far, my experience is virtually all from the comforts of my armchair, where books and the Internet rule. I would love to take it outside, but haven't (other than gleaning blackberries as a child in south Georgia).

A group of about a dozen of

A group of about a dozen of us ventured into Maryland's Catoctin Mountains two Sundays ago. Our ages ranged from 10 to 60. Some of us had vast experience, others very little - but together we formed a formidable & enthusiastic band of forest intrepids. I'm looking forward to our next expedition.

We Didn't Call it Foraging

Ever since I was little, we would find delicious things about. My favorite was the tiny little Colorado woodland strawberries. So worth any effort for the little tiny flavor bursts. Rasberries top the list along with Chanterrelles! I'm trying to learn more about Colorado native foods and medicinals.
I like.
Can't wait to check out the book :)

COBNUTS

My first memory of foraging was many moons ago in England.
My grandparents took me to forage for cobnuts( hazelnuts).
Grandad called them his "little filberts".

I struggled to open the shells.
We stayed out all afternoon and went home tired, but laden.
I had a tummy ache after munching too many nuts

Growing up I forgot about cobnuts. I never even saw them again.
Now, after living in the city, I'm a country dweller and avid forager,
but I still didn't remember filberts - until last summer.

Outside a supermarket, in a different country,
A young couple, tanned, dirty and unkempt sat on the ground.
They were gypsies, half-heartedly begging for some coins.

Laughing with sparkling eyes, chomping on something,
Their mucky hands rummaged in an old shoe box.
I hovered, trying to see what was inside;

Cobnuts!! They smiled and offered me some.

Would love to win this book :-) Pinned and shared.
Good Luck to all!

Thank you for compiling this!

Thank you for compiling this! It's a paramount paradigm shift <3
Look forward to reading it!

Playing Games With Trees

I was biking through the park when I noticed dry, spiny pods littering the trail. Some were slightly open, stuffed with brown seeds that I began to realize were chestnuts. Pulling over, I waded through the piles of empty pods, pricking my fingers as I tried to pry them open, revealing immature or otherwise underdeveloped chestnuts that were not fit for roasting. Just then, a middle aged woman and her mother approached me. They had noticed me looking for chestnuts, and had just moved to the United States from Japan, where chestnut foraging was a treasured pastime. The woman saw that I had not actually collected any chestnuts, and proceeded to explain to me the nuances of how to find a “good” one. Her English was choppy and truncated, but she struggled anyway, her mother offering supportive smiles as punctuation to her daughter’s words. She told me that I had to wait for the tree to drop a pod, and that pods heavy with “good” chestnuts make a deep ‘thunk’ on the ground below, whereas pods that are not choice will make a lighter sound. We waited for a brief pause, then, as if beckoning for us to play, the tree dropped a pod with a hard thunk on the other side of the tree. Catching the location of the fall with her eye, the woman ran toward it, collecting a large, shiny chestnut that had sprung forth upon impact. Thunk! Another fell, and then another, and another, until the two women and I were scrambling around the tree, fully involved in the game, giggling like little girls.

Here we were, collecting one of autumn’s subtle pleasures, connecting to the season, to the tree, and to the nutriment it provides, but more importantly, we were also connecting to one another. The experience was trans-cultural, trans-generational, and was overall extremely human. If it is true that nature is a socially constructed idea, then it is only because we have fragmented ourselves and created an alienated concept of ‘otherness.’

I first was harvesting

I first was harvesting dandelion leaves for my rabbits. This year, I used the flowers for jelly and the leaves in my salads too!

Nice coincidence

Cool - we are just in middle of campain to bring foraging back to czech republic habits. There were great tradition about eatig everything around us, but we partialy forget it.

But this year are czech blogs quite full of greens, yellows and violet :-)

(P.S. Czech, not Chechnya :-) )

I'm so sorry that you feel

I'm so sorry that you feel you have to leave the Post Scrip that the Czech Republic is not Chechnya! I heard in the news that people were confusing the two, and at first I thought it was an Onion article but it turns out, people were actually confused! Please forgive our ignorance in this country :-( That's great that you're trying to bring foraging back to the Czech way of life! I hope that turns out well, I think it's a great idea!

Very few dandelions here,

We just don't get many dandelions here, but elderflower is going strong. I'd love to read this resource!

I just can't get enough of

I just can't get enough of the stinging nettle! It's so tasty prepared as spinache souce, with roasted garlic and some nutmeg... :D

I'm a foraging newbie and

I'm a foraging newbie and during an edible and medicinal plant walk this past weekend I proudly told my group of total strangers about my wonderful dandelion tea and how I dig them up in my yard. Less than impressed, these strangers shared stories of making wild mustard pesto, batches of kumbucha, sumac jelly, etc. It was like telling a bunch of Coehlo's or Vonnegut's I had a story published in a local newspaper. In time.

book giveaway

today was my second day boiling birch sap into syrup. a fantastic molasses-like taste and a deep emerald black. ~would love a copy of Rebecca's book!

I forage for mushrooms,

I forage for mushrooms, asparagus and black raspberries. Looking forward to expanding my horizons though!

mustard, mustard, and more mustard

Recently went on a wild food walk. Encountered the same garlic mustard I ate last fall. Last year it was pleasant, refreshing, with a slight bitter after taste. Came to the same plants this spring. Now the garlic taste is noticeable. The strong bitterness is more noticeable in the upper leaves than the ones closer to the ground. I couldn't stop eating it, devouring it. Hedge mustard, chickweed, violet s and evergreen huckleberry in flower. Elderberry was also in flower, as was the thirteen foot serviceberry which will soon give me a joyous bounty. The Oregon oak leaves are coming in, but the bass wood trees are perfect for harvest right now. I love the spring harvest.

My son was here in Portland

My son was here in Portland in the 90's learning how to forage. Now I'm living here and he is in Florida raising a family.

This year, he is 40 yrs old and I am 60 yrs old. I would love to gift him your book and tell him that foraging is alive and well here in Portland. Maybe he'll want to come live here and teach my grandson how to forage in this wonderful city.

And if not, I'll just send him some dandelions!

Foraging!

Just came back from foraging some oxalis and nettle for dinner. Found an owl pellet on the trail, saw a mountain lion track (yikes), and had a wonderful experience. Now on to munch my spoils!

Family Tradition

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of asparagus hunting with my dad. While I was dating my (now) husband, we continued the tradition, and expanded our foraging to quite a few varieties of wild fruits, black walnuts, and all kinds of greens. Once we even found morels! Foraging is a great way to spend time together and appreciate the world around us, and having recently moved to a new area with different plant life (also being urban, which presents new challenges), I am excited to start learning about and identifying new edible plants! I hope to continue the tradition my dad started with my own children someday.

Started foraging last year-

Started foraging last year- with nettles and mushrooms. But we are interested in learning more (always!) and being confident enough to teach and show our friends too.

Mushroom Hunting

I was out after a mild december rain scouring my college's grassy quad and suddenly something gold flecked caught my eye.. It was the mushrooms I had been trying to find in various woodchipped areas! With glee I pinched off the top and left the mycelium to grow again next year!!

Looking for how to start

I have never foraged, but I vow to do some this summer--both in our urban Chicago neighborhood and our acreage in Michigan.

Mmmm, free food

There is a pet cemetery not too far from my house that I go sometimes to play with my (living) dog. In a field behind the gardens is a huge wild blackberry patch, and every year I load up at least twice. Yum! I wrote about it here:
http://www.sisterthreadsfarm.com/2012/07/joy-of-free-produce.html

My step-dad got us out there

My step-dad got us out there foraging for morels and taught me how to find and recognize water cress and black walnuts. Many days were spent in the woods watching animals, insects and munching on wild foods. Some of my best memories. Now, my boys have taken up the cause...they return home in the summers with shirt loads of peaches, pears, blackberries and cherries they've found on their adventures.

I've also Pinned and Tweeted.

We've foraged dandelions out

We've foraged dandelions out of our front yard - but we want to do more!

Foraging for edibles and medicinals

I don't just forage for food but am often looking more for wild medicinals to make salves and tinctures. Some like plantian, I will even throw in our soups and stocks. I also forage plants that our iguana can safely eat - she's a voracious eater and loves wild greens.

New to Foraging

I've done a little foraging with friends -- mostly elderberries, blackberries, and a few mushrooms -- but would love to check out this wonderful resource to learn more. What an exciting opportunity to build on such an important skill!

We are a major outdoors famly

We are a major outdoors famly but our foraging hasn't moved beyond morels & blackberries. We have a dream of someday trying a wildreness survivalist weekend and living off the land for a few days. This sounds like a great read!

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