Spring 2019 Wild Food Mentorship Program
It’s time to get serious about wild foods!
I want to help YOU prepare for the best foraging year of your life in 2019!
That’s why I’m offering another round of my Wild Food Mentorship program this spring, in which I will be taking on a select group of highly motivated individuals for a series of in-depth, one-on-one consultations aimed at helping you to learn about the wild foods found all across your local landscape throughout the year.
This will take the form of monthly hour-long calls from March through June 2019, in which we will custom tailor a game plan for you, connect you with resources specific to your location, and help you decide how best to manage your time and energy spent foraging to maximize your harvests while adhering to ethically sound, sustainable, and regenerative methods for tending the wild and obtaining a yield.
Submit your application via the form at the bottom of the page and I will be in touch with you shortly thereafter to arrange payment and schedule our first call.
Please note that I will be capping the number of students I take on at 20 in order to offer the most in-depth tutelage possible on a one-on-one level.
Space is limited, so be sure to fill out the application now!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is running this program?
A: Me, of course — your friend Sam Sycamore!
When I’m not busy with the Good Life Revival Podcast, I’m currently getting to know my new bioregion of north-central California, following years of being intimately acquainted with the Ohio River Valley of Kentucky and Indiana.
I was formally trained in plant ecology and botany at the University of Louisville (B.S. in biology - ecology, graduated 2012), and I have many years of experience as a forager, farmer, and steward of land. I am also the author of a book, Introduction to Foraging, self-published in early 2018.
Through most of the year, I personally grow and gather the majority of the produce I consume on a daily basis, and I would love to empower YOU to be able to do the same!
Q: Is this program a good fit for me?
A: If you’re new to foraging and you’re not sure where to begin — yes!
This program is primarily designed for individuals with little or no experience gathering wild foods, with the objective of building up your confidence and skill level to the point where you can confidently identify, harvest, process, cook, and preserve some of the most common and abundant wild foods on your local landscape.
My area of expertise is in the plants of Eastern North America (as in, east of the Rockies). Consider me an option for folks on the west coast if you’re brand new to botany and edible wild plants, but you may be better served by someone from your local community if you’re looking for information more specific to your bioregion.
I am freshly transplanted in California where I don’t know much yet, but I look forward to offering specific tutelage on this bioregion once I’m better acquainted with it.
I will only be taking on students in North America, because I simply don’t know enough about the flora on other continents to be much help. If you’re in the American Southwest or far north in Canada, I am probably not the best teacher for you, because I don’t know much about those ecosystems, either.
Q: How is the program structured?
A: Each month from March through June 2019, we will arrange a time to connect via phone or Skype so I can help guide you through the process of learning about the plants in your area, through the seasons.
Think of me as your tutor in a self-directed crash course on foraging over the next few months — the studying will be up to you in your free time between our calls, but I will distribute study materials and point you to where you need to go from week to week. I will also be available to offer guidance and answer any questions you have along the way.
Here’s the basic structure of the program:
March: Evaluate your knowledge, skill level and goals; review best practices for positive identification and ethical, sustainable harvesting; review introductory botany and taxonomy.
April: Introduction to late winter/spring foraging—what to look for & when & what to do with it.
May: Review of summer foraging opportunities—gathering & preserving berries efficiently during the busiest time of year!
June: Fall planning— processing & preserving fruits & nuts for winter; seed saving & propagation strategies.
Q: How many plants will I learn about?
A: On average, we will likely cover 20-30 edible wild plants in your region.
Much of this will depend on your skill level and experience coming into the program, as well as your short-term and long-term goals with foraging.
To learn 20-30 plants in a single year is no small feat, believe me.
In fact, I don’t expect you to walk away from the program feeling like an expert about all of the plants we’ll discuss.
But I do think you should feel pretty confident about at least a dozen new species if you practice and keep up with the work, and you’ll be well acquainted with many more future allies to keep an eye out for as you proceed with your studies in the years that follow.
More important than the number of species, however, is the foundational framework of botany and taxonomy that we will weave through all of our studies, which will allow you to quickly and confidently identify new species as you encounter them in the future.
Q: What is the time commitment like?
A: Expect to invest a few hours per week in studying over the next four months, and try to get outside identifying plants at least once a week if you can.
Because this is largely a self-directed course of study, it’s your call how much time and energy you want to invest in it.
Of course there are no grades, no tests, and no homework per se, but you should expect to set aside a couple hours per week to work your way through the study materials that I will provide.
We can only really skim the surface of many topics that we will briefly review, such as basic botany and plant taxonomy, but if you wish to go deeper with any topic along the way, all you have to do is ask! At the very least, I can probably point you towards some great primary resources for you to dig deeper.
In any case, you’ll never learn plant identification if you just read books for a few months and listen to me ramble about the plants I like — you have to get out outside and practice, as often as you possibly can! Consider once a week for a few hours to be the bare minimum if you hope to retain the information you’ll be studying.
Q: Will the program also cover wild mushrooms?
A: Short answer— no.
Mushroom hunting requires a specific skill set that is somewhat similar to foraging for edible plants, but positively identifying wild mushrooms can be much more complicated — and misidentifying mushrooms can lead to deadly consequences much more easily than with plants!
For that reason, this program will not include wild mushrooms. If you’re interested in learning the art of mushroom hunting, I can refer you to some good books, but I would highly recommend seeking out someone in your local area who can guide you in person. Remember: all mushrooms are edible, but some are only edible once! ;)
Q: Can you do in-person consultations?
A: I am not currently available to consult in person.
Because of this silly situation I currently find myself in, where my expertise is in a different bioregion than where I’m residing, it wouldn’t make much sense for us to meet up in person, unless you’re local to the Bay Area in California and you’re brand new to botany and plant identification. If that is the case, just get in touch and we’ll see what we can arrange.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: This program is offered on a sliding scale of $160-240 depending on what you are able to afford.
I can just about guarantee that in a single call, I could teach you how to gather many hundreds of dollars worth of common and easy-to-identify wild foods over the next year.
I prefer to arrange payment up-front if possible, but I am open to monthly payments if that makes it easier for you to manage.
Q: What if I sign up and then it turns out that I don’t have enough time to commit?
A: No sweat! Just let me know and we’ll decide how best to proceed.
Lots of things can come up unexpectedly in life and completely derail this course of study after you’ve already committed to it. Don’t worry if you find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
In some cases, students have asked to “skip” a month’s call so that they can take extra time to catch up if they fall behind; while not always ideal for scheduling purposes on my end, I am willing to accommodate this request because I really want to see you succeed!
You may decide you need a longer break, or you’re not sure when you’ll be able to pick the work back up, in which case you have a few options to choose from:
a full refund if you’re totally unsatisfied with the experience
a partial refund if you’ve appreciated the program but can’t continue
a raincheck if you just need a break but want to come back to it at a later date
I am always willing to work with you to figure out the arrangement that will work best for you. Just let me know.
Q: What if the program sucks and you suck as a teacher and I just want my money back?
A: I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that!
But if you’re unsatisfied with the services I provide and wish to bow out of the program, I will happily refund your money.
If you have any further questions before applying, please don’t hesitate to contact me!