“Foraging for a cause”… is how the foragers I have talked to about collecting wild food for rehabilitation refer to it.
I have seen a big bump up in interest in wild edible plant foraging for human consumption in recent years. It’s a trend. Classes are offered and they fill up fast. Maybe the fad will pass, but from my own experience I can say that there just is something very soul-satisfying about collecting wild food. Humans are genetically designed to engage in a lot of foraging as a matter of survival. Foraging satisfies our inner hunter-gatherer.
Like recruitment of all volunteers for the rehab effort, it takes some time and effort on the rehabilitator’s part. But good volunteers are worth gold. You may not know quite where to look for foraging volunteers, because they may be a different population than the animal care volunteers that are attracted to you.
Here are some ideas of groups to look for in your area:
Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners Master Naturalist and Master Gardener programs exist throughout the USA in many states. In Virginia, they are both sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension as well as other state agencies. These groups provide training in naturalist and gardening skills in order to prepare participants to be a skilled volunteer workforce in those areas of study—ecology and gardening. There are local chapters that may be in your area and you can start a discussion about where there are members interested in volunteering with you to grow or collect wild foods.
Scout Groups Even young scouts need projects, and young folks –even young ones– can gather acorns.
Garden Clubs, Arboretums and Botanical Gardens These groups often have knowledgeable volunteers as well as access to wild foods in areas that are away from roadsides or other chemicals.
Primitive Skills Groups This is a catch phrase that may help you locate a specialized group of folks in your area who often have good skills foraging for wild edibles. These groups can refer to themselves under various terms, so search for words like, “bushcraft”, “ancestral skills”, “primitive skills”, and “survival skills” to see if you have a group in your area to recruit volunteers from.