A QueensWay Tour with “Wildman” Steve Brill
Sunday, Sep 4, 2016
– 3:30 pm
The 2.5-hour foraging tour begins at 1 PM, Saturday, Sep 4, at the NE corner of Woodhaven Blvd. and Forest Park Drive, outside Victory Field, in Woodhaven, Queens.
The suggested donation is $20/adult, $10/child under 12. At least 24 hours in advance to reserve a spot on tour.
After a well-attended tour of the QueensWay, co-led by Friends of the QueensWay and local legend, “Wildman” Steve Brill, we are back with another one!
This tour explores the long-abandoned RBB line that runs through Forest Park. This is one of the best places for foraging in late summer. We’ll explore a wild, wooded trail, next to a large, mature forest, plus trail sides, thickets, and cultivated areas, all loaded with wild plants
This is the start of the nut season, and the butternut is one of the best. We’ll crack these flavorful nuts open with rocks, and enjoy a treat you can’t buy anywhere.
Most roots are out of season in the summer, but burdock, an expensive detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, is an exception, and it abounds in human-disturbed areas scattered throughout the trail sides, where it’s invasive. Instead of brewing it as a tea, it’s so common; you cook it like potatoes, or marinate and bake it to make vegan beef jerky.
Sassafras root, the original source of root beer, stays in season all year. You use it for tea, for making root beer, as the thickener for gumbo, called filé powder, and as a cinnamon-like seasoning.
Another tree we’ll look for is the black birch. It grows in the woods, with twigs that taste like wintergreen, and it provides the raw material for making birch beer. You can steep the twigs in hot water to make a fabulous tea, with anti-inflammatory properties that protect you from heart disease, similar to aspirin. You can also thicken the tea with agar, season and sweeten it, and make black birch Jell-O. Even better, use it to flavor a tapioca-thickened Stick Pudding.
There are plenty of summer herbs and greens in season. We’ll find mugwort, a tonic for the female reproductive system, and lamb’s-quarters, which you use like its relative, spinach. We’ll also be finding Asiatic dayflower, hedge mustard, poor man’s pepper, lady’s thumb, and wood sorrel, all great for salads, sandwiches, and cooked vegetable dishes.
Wild seeds are in season too. We’ll hunt for the spicy seeds of garlic mustard, walnut-flavored seeds of jewelweed (a panacea for skin irritation—it even cures mosquito bites and prevents poison ivy rash), plus the wild grains of foxtail grass.
With lots of rain and a bit of luck, gourmet chicken mushrooms, milky mushrooms, boletes, and russulas may be emerging.
Don’t miss a fantastic tour of this vastly under-appreciated nature trail.
“Naturalist-author “Wildman” Steve Brill is America’s go-to guy for foraging. He’s been leading foraging tours and providing demos for the public, for schools, day camps, birthday parties, museums, nature centers, parks departments, restaurants and chefs, garden clubs, hiking clubs, teaching farms, nurseries, and other organizations, in parks and natural areas throughout the Greater NY area, since 1982.