3 Foraging Walks on the Wild Side (of NYC)

marie viljoen

We thought it would never arrive but spring is making up for lost time (did we skip April?).

In foraging terms, May is super-charged. Plants are falling over one another to pop out of the ground. Some of the best-tasting wild edible plants can be spotted all over the city within the next four weeks. On mid-spring walks in Manhattan and Brooklyn I teach the identification and explore the culinary possibilities of invasive weeds and indigenous herbs, vegetables and fruit, whose flavors are little known beyond the foraging fringe.


Dead Horse Bay is the landfill that was used as a garbage dump for late nineteenth and early twentieth century New York City. Despite the (wildly invasive) phragmites monoculture that dominates the plant world here, and the bottle-littered beach that put it on the hipster map, there are plenty of edible treasures to discover. Pokeweed and common milkweed, wild lettuce and dandelions, bayberry and sea rocket, field garlic and oodles of black cherries abound. Pack a picnic and come and spend the afternoon poking around this New York City wilderness.

Where: Dead Horse Bay
When: May 10th 12pm – 4pm
Cost: $40 ($30 to Edible readers who add the note EDIBLE to their purchase)
Details here.

Spring wild edibles

Inwood Hill Park, at Manhattan’s northern tip is home to its oldest forest. Near the ballfields and park edges we will find pokeweed and burdock, while in the lower reaches of the woods is a profusion of spicebush trees. Higher up are swathes of invasive day lilies, garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed and field garlic. Learn to recognize ubiquitous mugwort: it may be a pest but it’s the best pest for a nest in the pot. Sorry. Spring fever.

Where: Inwood Hill Park
When: May 17th, 12.30pm – 3pm
Cost: $30 ($25 to Edible readers who add the note EDIBLE to their purchase)
Details here.

Pokeweed stems

On the opposite corner from the well-known and very formal Conservancy Garden, the North Woods are Central Park’s less-known wild and hilly northwest. In late May this wooded wilderness will be fully leafed out and filled with birdsong and late spring bloom. Come for a two hour stroll and learn to spot and identify wild edibles such as invasive Japanese knotweed, mugwort, field garlic, indigenous but weedy pokeweed (learn how to cook it), dangerous dogbane and Northeastern natives like May apples and serviceberries.

Afterwards, stroll north into Harlem and enjoy brunch at The Cecil.

Where: Central Park’s North Woods
When: May 26th, 11am – 1pm
Cost: $30 ($25 to Edible readers who add the note EDIBLE to their purchase)

Details here

Marie Viljoen

Marie Viljoen lives in Brooklyn and believes in food, flowers and plants you can eat (and drink). Join her on a seasonal forage walk or find her daily posts on Instagram @66squarefeet

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