Learn To Forage, Farm and Cook in Pocahontas County, West Virginia

Foraging? Forest? Farming? Pocahontas County has you covered! Have you ever hiked by a forest floor overflowing with potential and wished you knew what was edible? Well, if you’re in Pocahontas County this May, you’re in luck! There will be a variety of exciting walks and workshops to introduce you to the world of finding food and medicine in the forest.

Sure, Pocahontas County is known as “Nature’s Mountain Playground,” but it’s also home to generations of families with a deep knowledge of what the forest offers. Tap into that wisdom with these events.

Wild Edibles Walk (May 17)

Get your hands dirty (and bellies full) during the Wild Edibles Walk at Yew Mountain Center. Join herbalist Kayde Fen Deardorff on Friday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. for a walk to identify edible plants, then stick around for a delicious taco bar! For those seeking spiritual nourishment, a Gospel Sing with Will Price follows the dinner.

Erica Marks, co-founder of Yew Mountain Center, raved about Deardorff’s expertise, “Kayde has a lot of woods/field experience and clinical training. She prepares meticulously for every event, scouting the area beforehand to see what’s flourishing. Kayde goes beyond just identifying edibles; she teaches ethical foraging and responsible practices to ensure there’s plenty left for everyone and the forest itself. She will provide vinegars, salad dressings and other goodies to prepare your things that are in season right now. There’s so much that is edible in the woods, but not only just looking at what you can eat, but what you should eat – not necessarily from a dietary perspective, but also thinking about ethical foraging and being responsible for leaving enough for other foragers, not to mention organisms that depend on these edibles as well.”

There’s so much more to the forest than meets the eye!

Photo Credit: Yew Mountain Center

Forest Farming Field Day (May 18)

Looking to go beyond foraging and cultivate your own sustainable bounty? The Forest Farming Field Day is for you! Learn how to grow native medicinal and edible plants right in your own woodland area. It’s a win-win: you get valuable plants while restoring the ecosystem’s biodiversity. This all-day event takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and lunch, dinner and expert talks are included! Click here to make your reservations.

Erica elaborates on the concept: “We’re teaching people to cultivate native plants with medicinal, edible and decorative value, all with the ethics of using the forest responsibly. With more people and less woodland, it’s crucial to be mindful of what we take. Forest farming teaches you to ‘put things back’ – basically, growing these plants using the existing forest ecology. It’s not labor-intensive; you work with what’s already there! Learn where and how specific plants thrive, implement good security measures and you can have a profitable and sustainable addition to your farm. Plus, you’re helping restore biodiversity! The demand for Appalachian herbs is booming worldwide, from ginseng in Asia to black cohosh in Europe, and even ramps, a favorite in many cities. These plants respond well to cultivation, but remember, they’re shade-grown and take time. Be patient! While you wait for your long-term crops, consider cultivating mushrooms on logs or using tree saps – maples provide excellent habitat for ginseng, for example. It’s all about working in harmony with the forest.”

Campfire Cooking Class (May 18)

Master the magic of campfire cooking at this free workshop at High Rocks near Hillsboro on May 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Learn the secrets to delicious open-flame cooking. It’s a recipe for fun, fellowship and tasty food! Space is limited, so reserve your spot now by calling 304-653-4891 or visiting the event website.

This workshop is part of the 2024 Folk Arts & Culture Workshop Series, presented by High Rocks in partnership with Berea College and its own agricultural business and education program, Ruby Grow at High Rocks Lodge. 

Forest Foraging (May 25)

Learn to identify edible treasures and find hidden gems during the Forest Foraging Workshop at High Rocks on May 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. Discover the bounty of the Appalachian Mountains and unlock the secrets of wild edibles. Space is limited, so reserve your spot now by calling (304) 653-4891 or visiting the event website

For more information and registration details, visit our event calendar. Happy foraging! 

Note: Quotes throughout this blog have been condensed for readability.