Kids eat the darnedest things. Unfortunately, it’s often a mix of non-food and neon food-adjacent options that they select. If you want them to eat exotic and healthy, it’s time to teach your kids the art of foraging. Though one of the biggest cities in the world, LA is home 2 “wild food” experts who are happy to share their knowledge through classes, nature walks and workshops. It’s a great way to get your kids into nature—and eating some wild new green things!
School of Self Reliance With Christopher Nyerges
Christopher Nyerges has been teaching foraging and outdoor survival through his School of Self Reliance for over 40 years—he’s also published several books on those subjects—so he imparts a sense of wisdom and self-assurance that is comforting, especially when he’s feeding random plants to your children. Christopher’s workshops cover topics as varied as weaponry (think bird traps made of sticks and fishing nets woven from plant fibers), fire making, disaster preparedness, medicinal and edible plants, wilderness navigation and general outdoor survival. Children are welcome when accompanied by an adult, and many of the classes are followed by an edible plant gathering walk (even when it isn’t the main topic).
You’ll be amazed at how many plants you’ll discover on just a brief stroll with Christopher, who points out and explains which of our native plants are perfectly harmless and edible (chickweed, lambsquarter, mallow, purslane, sow thistle and lots more), which ones can kill you (poison hemlock, which looks innocent enough—see a picture below) and which ones fall somewhere in between (oxalis should only be consumed in small amounts; stinging nettle tastes lovely, but must be handled and prepared properly, or you know, they sting). Afterward, the gathered ingredients are chopped up and tossed with dressing for a tasty and nutrient-dense wild food salad. Chances are, you’ll be pleasantly stunned at the way your child scarfs it all down. Nothing builds an appetite like self sufficiency.
Class schedule is available online, and classes range from Wild Food Walks to Plant Medicines to Fire Building Workshops and more. You can also schedule private lessons for a family, school or group. Classes take place at various locations in Los Angeles, mostly in the San Gabriel Valley.
Urban Outdoor Skills With Pascal Baudar
Pascal Baudar is another local wild food expert and author, and he works together with his partner Mia Wasilevich, a private chef, to offer classes in “wild food gastronomy.” Their classes and workshops are usually held in the northwest region of the San Fernando Valley and have more of a foodie bent than the classes offered through Christopher’s School of Self Reliance. Some good options to do with kids include nature walks and wild food tastings, while you might consider getting a sitter so you can check out the wild beers workshop!
Class schedule is available online, and classes range from Wild Food Tasting & Small Plant Walk to Making Natural Sodas (or beers, for parents!) and more. You can also schedule private classes for a family, school or group. Classes take place mainly in the San Fernando Valley, but they will come to you for private classes.
Do you have any urban foraging tips? We’d love to hear your adventures about eating wild in LA in the comment section.
—written and photos by Erin Harris