Edible Plants with Russ Cohen

Walking to Wing Island

By Kelley Lindquist

On June 19, 2018, The Brewster Conservation Trust along with The Dennis Conservation Trust hosted Russ Cohen, author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten and his Edible Walk along Wing Island in Brewster. His introduction started with a sampling of homemade birch tea, along with his Autumn Olive fruit leather. The walk began with a lesson in how to make tea using sweet fern, a plant much used during the Revolutionary War era when British tea was being boycotted.

Then, with his guests in tow, Cohen waded out into the high tide marsh to continue on his journey. With waterlogged shoes and smiling faces, Cohen’s guests learned how to make fresh jams and jellies using fruits such as Black Cherries, Wild Grape, and Beach Plum. They also received a lesson in grape leaf meals, and how a grape leaf can enhance a jar of homemade pickles!

The next destination was Cape Cod Bay. There, the group learned about seaweed, wild mustard (which tastes like broccoli), as well as a non-native species of rose used for things such as rose water, rose hip tea, and rose jelly. Many of the plants Cohen explained also had medicinal benefits to them, such as a natural way to reduce the sting from Stinging Nettle, as well as plants with high iron content for pregnant women or the anemic.

He concluded his workshop by highlighting an organization close to his heart, the Essex County Greenbelt Association. All proceeds from his book are donated to this organization, which in turn will help to buy and protect more conservation land for future generations.

The Brewster Conservation Trust, along with the Dennis Conservation Trust, thanks Russ Cohen for a wonderful evening of learning and laughing!

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