Shopping local can have a lot of benefits for the community and you, especially when you are talking wilderness skills. Don’t get me wrong there are many “basics” to learn and perfect as well as tons of great teachers. Personally I have a short list of outdoor professionals I would love to take some classes from for a bunch of different reasons.
First off what you know might not be the best way of doing it, just because it works doesn’t mean you can do it better. No one person can truly be an expert on every region and we all have weaknesses. One of mine is wild edibles and medicinal plants, so in this case training to my weakness and doing it locally was a great opportunity, after all what’s the point in learning what you can and can’t eat five hundred miles away (there is on but start closer to home, and then work your way out).
So I lucked out last Saturday and got to take a wild edibles class from Jeromie Jackson from San Diego South West Travelers (SWOT). I was stoked because here is an opportunity to up my edible/medicinal game and it was close to home so we all met up around 0830 in Lakeside California. It was already a great opportunity due to the fact that the river bank we were walking along was a local park with urban interface. This was nice for a couple reasons, we could keep one foot in nature and one foot in town as it cuts down on travel, but more importantly it was really interesting to learn the abundance of useful plants in our back yard.
The class its self was an easy trail and had around eight or so people. A few were also quite knowledgeable on local plants so I was really happy to get a chance to listen and learn. The class was relaxed and it was nice to slow down and learned more about what we pass by every day. For a three hour class at twenty dollars a head it was a great value and opportunity especially with a lot of plants in full bloom. I will say one of the major take away is was how little I actually know, and the class served as a great introduction to the subject but I by no means left ready to walk into the woods and go feral, ha-ha.
But that’s also kind of the point, these instructors put a lot of time and effort into their craft and none of it is getting mastered from a three hour class. The way one will get proficient is hard work with like-minded people in a positive environment; this was one of those places. And until the next wild edibles walk I picked up a copy of Jeromie’s book, “No Fear Foraging: a Field Guide to the Most Common Edible & Medicinal Plants in the USA” so I gave myself a homework assignment.
We can all read books and cruise the internet but eventually we got to get some dirt time. Eventually we will step up our game to a point where we might get hurt (see eating weird plants) so finding a mentor or local instruction is imperative. Look around find a reputable local group like SWOT and take a class, and Get The Fox Out There!