During the past few years, Ontario Nature’s Thunder Bay staff have connected people with nature through edible wild plant workshops. The workshops – held across northern Ontario including Kenora, Dryden, Red Rock, Nipigon, Terrace Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay – were comprised of lectures, field walks and cooking food in community kitchens. Participants learned how to identify, sustainably harvest, prepare and store wild foods.
Ontario Nature’s foraging program is intended for northern Ontario. Sustainable foraging can contribute to increased food security in northern communities, reduced dependence on long-distance food sources, and increased access to locally-abundant, nutrient-rich foods. This shared resource requires shared stewardship responsibilities as the growing interest in foraging increases pressure on public forests with potential impacts on the quality and quantity of wild plants.
There are examples (such as the wild leeks in Quebec) where unsustainable foraging practices have negatively impacted plant abundance. So it’s paramount that foraging is done sustainably. At minimum, foragers should always:
- Limit harvest intensity by taking no more than five percent of an individual patch of plants;
- Limit the harvest of roots to increase regeneration of plants; and
- Avoid foraging in areas where foraging is prohibited, such as certain nature reserves.