Expert Identifies over 50 Edible Plants on Campus

Following enough rainy days to prompt the emergence of numerous brightly colored fungi, Russ Cohen, naturalist, author, gardener, and wild foods enthusiast, joined Maine Coast Waldorf School’s Farm, Field and Forest (FFF) Committee for a 2-hour walking tour of wild edible plants. Russ lives in Massachusetts and has connections with several in the MCWS community, including Lucy Birkett Ahearne (P’16 and P’18) who brought Russ to campus years ago and is herself a native plant expert. 

In addition to pointing out the non-edible mushrooms and other plants you wouldn’t want to eat, Russ identified over 50 edible wild plant species and saw lots of opportunities for further diversifying the MCWS campus with additional edible native species. In addition to sharing his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for edible wild foods, Russ gave us a detailed inventory of the 50+ wild edible species he saw in our woods, fields, gardens and roadsides. He also suggested some plants that will support native pollinators and the honey bees (and their need for nearby water). He left us with several native nut tree seedlings, good books on wild plants that he wrote or recommended, and the thirst to share what we learned with our Waldorf community. 

While we walked, Jill Fox, Lynn Wetterhorn, Brian Kessler and Lynne Espy also talked with Russ about continuing this work collaboratively, wherein MCWS hosts and nurtures an increasing number and variety of edible wild plants on our 75-acre campus. This would further Russ Cohen’s “Johnny Appleseed” goal of spreading edible wild plants to suitable locations in New England and it would further MCWS’s goal to more fully engage our students and the wider community through the use of our extensive and diverse outdoor education spaces. 

More about the FFF Cmt:

The FFF Cmt works to support a diversified and sustainable ecosystem at MCWS, including healthy soils, forests, fields, and educational gardens, as well as a wide variety of native and edible plants. Our goal is to create vibrant and inspiring outdoor learning environments for all students – from the very youngest student observing the butterfly on a flower to the high school student studying plant anatomy or beehive management. We also want to create beautiful and interesting outdoor spaces for the greater community. We welcome our alum, their families and guests to come visit.  Contact Lynn Wetterhorn, chair of the FFF Cmt or Lynne Espy, Development Director, if interested in learning more.