Foraging (or wildcrafting) is the ancient practice of collecting wild-grown ingredients for use as food, medicine, and even arts and crafts. Sound fun to you, but wary of heading into the wilderness to seek strange plants, fungi, and sea plants all on your own? The following guided foraging adventures in Sonoma County provide you with the knowledge, expertise, and safety you crave.
And while enjoying your foraging adventures, please consider following the principles of Leave No Trace, and endeavor to minimize impacts to outdoor spaces as much as possible.
Wild Mushroom Foraging with a Guide
Wild mushroom season in Sonoma County is dependent on rain, but is usually October through April. The New York Times recently forecast mushrooms as ingredient of the year for 2022, so this autumn will (once again) be fungi’s turn to shine. Wild mushrooms commonly found in Sonoma County include chanterelles, boletes, black trumpets, morels, hedgehogs, and candy cap — a deliciously unusual ‘shroom that tastes like maple syrup.
Mushroom Forays with Sonoma County Mycological Association
Mycological means “of or pertaining to mushrooms,” and that’s what the knowledgeable fungi folk of Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA) are all about. Throughout the entire season, their Mushroom Forays invite the public into the coastal woods at Salt Point State Park to collect wild mushrooms. Groups meet at the Woodside Day Use Area for a roughly four-hour adventure that includes foraging, a mushroom-based dish cooked onsite by club chefs (plus participant potluck), and an ID session to learn about your mushroom haul.
Wild Mushroom Foraging with Relish Culinary Adventures
Throughout the winter, Healdsburg-based Relish partners with Bay Area foraging expert David Campbell to host mushroom forays at Notre Vue Estate Winery & Vineyards in Windsor. You’ll learn the fundamentals of foraging, including what trees and terrain to look for, Sonoma County’s most easily recognizable edible mushrooms, tips on safety and more. After gathering in the estate’s forests, you’ll head back to the winery for a fungi-focused cooking demonstration led by chef Julie Schreiber, resulting in a four-course mushroom lunch paired with Notre Vue wines.
Seaweed Foraging Adventure with ForageSF
June and July are prime months for edible seaweed collecting on the Sonoma Coast. ForageSF invites you for a two-to-three-hour guided morning foray to examine underwater life with a seaweed expert, learning what to pick, how to pick it, and how to make it taste delicious. You’ll meet your guide at low tide on a beach whose location will be revealed one week prior, and after you collect up to 10 pounds of edible seaweed, your guide will talk with you about what you collected, the science of seaweed, and how to cook your catch. You won’t need to get in the ocean, but it’s recommended that you wear rain boots.
Foraging Events with Sonoma County Herb Association
Popular for their clearinghouse of locally and ecologically grown herbs, this Sonoma County herbal education nonprofit sponsors various foraging events throughout the year, including mushroom, seaweed, and “herb walk” foraging events, as well as tutorials on foraging for craft materials in the wild and how to prepare your own herbal medicines. Sonoma County Herb Association (SCHA) frequently updates its website with new events, but the best way to stay in the know is to join its email list.
Educational Treks and Camps with LandPaths
The main mission of this 25-year-old nonprofit is fostering a love of the land in Sonoma County. To this end, they host educational treks and camps for kids and teens (ages 6-17) designed to connect them to natural landscapes, ecosystems, and each other — learning about wild plants along the way. Treks range from a few hours to several days, and camp experiences last at least four days. In spring and summer, they also host guided wildflower walks/events for adults and children in the Bohemia Ecological Preserve. See their Events page for the latest listings.
Written by Melanie Wynne
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