March Meeting

Nibbling on Natives

in your Backyard and Beyond

Presented by Russ Cohen,

Mass Department of Fish & Game, Retired

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 – 7 pm

Tolman Auditorium, Springfield Science Museum

There’s increasing interest among homeowners, property managers and others to utilize native species in landscaping, thanks to books like Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, which extol the virtues of native plants over exotic ornamentals for attracting and sustaining beneficial insects. Yet, for some people, this alone may be insufficient motivation to “go native”. Perhaps knowing that many native species are edible by people, too, will provide the incentive needed to add native species to your yard. Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.), for example, are edible by both animals and people. The taste of the ripe fruit is like a cross between cherries and almonds, related species from the Rose family.
Join Russ Cohen, expert forager and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, for a slide show featuring species of native edible wild plants suitable for adding to your own landscape or nibbling on as you encounter them in other locales. Keys for identification of each species will be provided, along with guidelines for safe and environmentally responsible foraging. Russ will also include a few details regarding native edible plants he has grown successfully from seed and partnerships he has made with conservation groups and others to add edible native plants to their landscapes. Russ will bring along samples of foraged goodies made from edible native species for people to taste.
Until his retirement in June of 2015, Russ Cohen served as Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration. Now he has more time to pursue his passionate avocation: connecting to nature via his taste buds. Russ leads foraging walks and talks each year at venues throughout the Northeast and has taken on a role as a “Johnny Appleseed” of sorts for edible native species. He has set up a small nursery (in Weston, Mass.) where he grows plants that he propagates from seed, some of which he has collected himself.