If you love the farm-to-table lifestyle adopted by many restaurants across the nation, and want to incorporate that concept more into your own kitchen, then foraging for food may be right up your alley.
Foraging for food is an enticing concept: You go out into the wild, find edible plants and weeds and cook them into your recipes at home. But the practice can also be dangerous. That’s why we recommend foraging with tour guides to ensure safety. Here are three across the state, plus one in North Carolina, that will help you begin your foraging journey.
Located in Highland County, Emerald Mountain Sanctuary offers a tour called Backyard Foraging. It’s a guided walk through the gardens, meadows and woodlands at the sanctuary, highlighting edible and medicinal plants that grow in the Virginia Western Highlands. Guests begin in the gardens to learn about edible weeds, and then walk through the fields, hedgerows and forest edges to find wildflowers, berries, nuts, greens, leaves and barks. The tour also includes lessons on ethical foraging, and it concludes with samples of the many drinks and dishes that can be prepared with the foraged foods. Morning or afternoon tours are available, and guests can choose a two- or three-hour walk. // Emerald Mountain Sanctuary: Across Highland County; $25-$30 per person for two-hour tour and $35-$40 per person for three-hour tour
Explore backyards, swamps, marshes and forests with Eco Images, run by Vickie Shufer, a naturalist, herbalist and forager in Virginia Beach. Foraging events are held in the Blackwater section of Virginia Beach, focusing on following the seasons and identifying plants growing around the region. Learn how to process and prepare them, and taste samples on the tours. Upcoming events include Spring Tonics on March 16, where guests will identify and gather herbs to prepare teas and detox soup, and Flower Power on April 20, for learning which wildflowers are edible and medicinal. // Locations of tours vary in Virginia Beach; Contact directly for pricing
Based in Afton, The Living Earth School hosts foraging and feasting events for participants that want to learn more about wild edible plants. Guests are guided through the forest to learn what can be eaten, basic plant identification, advanced identification for those who are interested, harvesting and cooking plants over a fire. The next foraging events are being held on April 28 and 29, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. // The Living Earth School: 101 Rocky Bottom Lane, Afton; $75
OK, so Asheville may be in North Carolina and not Virginia, but this tour is worth the trip. There are over 300 wild edibles in the Southern Appalachians, and No Taste Like Home offers two opportunities: the Wild Food Stroll and the Foraging Tour. The Wild Food Stroll is 1.5 hours long and is for those who want to taste foraged foods—but don’t want to go out and pick the plants themselves. Guests will enjoy eight to 10 wild foods to try, including a complimentary wild-foraged appetizer. The Foraging Tour is for those who want to gather at a least a dozen wild foods with their own hands. Tours last for three hours, and include a short cooking demo and tasting on-site. // Tour locations vary in Asheville; Wild Food Stroll $40 and Foraging Tour $60
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