Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend – Day 3

Dr. Don Gartman Leading the Opening Service
Day Three of my Wild Foods Weekend began with an opening service led by Dr. Don Gartman of Charleston, West Virginia ,who offered some weighty comments on such heady subjects as  theology and evolution, the number of the world’s religions, the age of the Bible and the writing of the King James version adopted by many Protestant sects. Whew!. All this even before I had my second cup of coffee!

It was not your typical Sunday sermon as Dr. Gartman starting the day with tidbits of church humor culled from Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English” and “More Anguished English.” As an example he cited the case of someone misreading the sixth commandment as “Thou Shalt not admit adultery.”

Dr. John Tumikel Wesring Euell Gibbon's Iconic Red Bandana and Giving Some Pithy Reflections
The short 30-minute long service included the reading of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Wilderness,” appropriate for wild foods and nature lovers in the assembly, and some insightful thoughts by one of the original wild foods weekend  leaders, Dr. John Tomikel of Erie, who reflected on  his long life its relation to both nature and spirituality. 

Music interspersed among their remarks was provided by guitarist, Ron Boone of Washington, Pa. who sang several songs, including “Leviathan” a hommage to the whale. The service ended with everyone joining in on a rousing version of “Country Roads.”

Vocalist/Guitarist Ron Boone
The final event of the weekend was a Wild Foods Workshop with Edelene Wood, Mike Krebill, Dr. Gartman and Leda Meredith as panelists. Titled “Encouraging Wild Foods in the 50 States,” the workshop explored the wild foods movement sparked by Euell Gibbons who initiated a change of attitude toward wild edibles from the notion that they were “poor man’s food” to one where they had evolved over the last five decades to be considered gourmet and now offered on the menus of multi-star, upscale restaurants.

Workshop Panel includes Edelene Wood, Dr. Don Gartman, Mike Krebill and Leda Meredith

Wood, one of the prime initiators of the Wild Foods Weekend, along with her mother, Hazel, gave a retrospective look back over the event’s last 49 years where themes included Civil War foods, wild foods of the various states and ethnic wild foods.

The panel advocated the start of additional wild foods events across the nation, with Meredith suggesting Facebook as a good way to contact people with similar interests in forming wild foods networks, advocacy groups and events.

For those interested in finding foraging instructors in any locale across the U.S., Krebill suggested logging on to websites such as The panel also provided information on wild foods festivals such as the High Rocks Nettle Fest in Hillsboro, West Virginia, each August and the Ramp Festival in Richwood, West Virginia.

The weekend concluded with a farewell shortly after 11 a.m. on Sunday, September 18. Many of the attendees had been coming to the annual event at North Bend State Park for a number of years, building bonds, renewing acquaintances and making new friends

 I suspect  that many left with the thought of next year’s wild foods weekend, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary from September 15 - 17, 2017. Hopefully, planners will make the golden anniversary get-together extra special and even more interesting and exciting than usual. For more information on the 2017 Wild Foods Weekend, phone 304-558-2754.

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