Forager Foundation launches Lost Lake tours

New tours will teach beginners about edible and medicinal plants in our backyard

The Forager Foundation is set to host foraging tours in Lost Lake Park and all around the Lower Mainland this summer. Ethnobotanist and guide Bryce Watts led a tour last weekend.   Photo by Photo submitted

The Forager Foundation is set to host foraging tours in Lost Lake Park and all around the Lower Mainland this summer. Ethnobotanist and guide Bryce Watts led a tour last weekend.   Photo by Photo submitted

by Alyssa Noel

This might not be a shock to many locals, but Whistlerites are more interested than most in learning about foraging.

That’s what Jesse Evjenth and his team at the Forager Foundation learned when they launched their foraging tours last month around the Lower Mainland and up the Sea to Sky highway.

“We’re getting a huge response from Whistler, a pretty good response from Vancouver and next to no response in Surrey,” said Evjenth, program director for the non-profit organization. “We’re starting to figure out where our ideal focus should be.”

Currently, the group is offering tours throughout the summer and fall in eight locations that represent different ecosystems, including Lost Lake Park. They’ve also partnered with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre so that the $75 ticket for the Whistler tour includes a tour of the centre as well as lunch. “There’s a lot of room for expanding, but this year is best suited for adults who are pretty interested in foraging, but don’t know where to start,” Evjenth said. “The tour goes around Lost Lake Park, but mostly the lake itself. It’s going to include a variety of different seasonal plants. As the season goes on, different plants will be around. A lot of flowering plants are available right now. Later in the season there will be more berries, and in the fall, more mushrooms.”

The goal is to teach people how to identify different plants, learn about their uses and how to forage responsibly and sustainably on their own. “Some of the response we’ve been getting is, ‘please, please promote ethical and sustainable harvesting,’ which is definitely in our values,” Evjenth said. “Certain plants if you pick more than a few leaves have a potential of dying. We don’t want to be causing damage to parks or in the forest.”

They also hope to encourage people to grow native species in their own gardens. “We have a lot of different fundamentals for these tours, but mostly we want people to understand there is lots of food in the forest, native plant species that they could grow themselves,” Evjenth said. “Being intimate with their environment around them, respecting that cultures have lived here for thousands of years off the land, I think that’s important too.”

Evjenth and a group of friends first started the Forager Foundation in 2013 with the goal of helping the public engage with the environment around them. Since then, they’ve launched Forager magazine and have been working towards the series of tours.

They consider this year’s tours a pilot project and expect to tweak the offerings in years to come. They hope, for example, to host more advanced tours eventually.

“For the most part, we’re giving a beginner’s level of knowledge,” Evjenth said. “Obviously there are some plants everybody knows, but we’re expanding on knowledge everybody knows without overwhelming them.”

The first session is set to take place on June 20. There will be other tours on July 6 and 24, Aug. 16 and 31 and on Sept. 18.

To register or learn more visit foragerfoundation.org.