On April 11, a small group of foraging enthusiasts had the pleasure of gathering for an afternoon of discussion centered on wild harvests. The instigators of this pleasant afternoon were Rose Longini, our gracious host, and Dan Persyko, a long-time Galiano resident, who has many years of experience feeding himself from the wilds and is very keen on passing on this valuable knowledge. Many of you will already know this colorful character as Dan the one-man band, a talented and versatile musician, or as T. Nile’s father…
While most of us have had some sort of exposure to eating wild foods, few of us are as well-versed in the sheer variety of edible wild foods and their properties and many uses, as Dan is.
The topics discussed were varied, interesting and wide-ranging: from native uses of various wild foodstuffs, to wild harvesting ethics, deer culling, clam gardens, the politics of Montague Park, early settlers, Galiano hermits, websites, facebook and blogs, as some of the best ways of disseminating information about wild plants and animals in this day and age… there was something for every taste (Pun intended… by the way, Rose also had quite an array of delicious food on offer!!).
We examined and discussed the way native people’s ‘gardens’, which were essentially wild stands of selected desirable foods that were tended, in order to maximize their chances of propagation and growing success, may have seemed to those early European settlers, used to the organized gardens and farms of the Old World.
We looked at some of our protected areas, more particularly Montague Park, which have a rich and ancient history as the ‘breadbaskets’ of the local people, and which now, under the protective umbrella of land management, are seeing their native plants’s natural life cycles disrupted (some of these plants depend on regular harvests for their propagation and for the health of their ecosystems), which may be counterintuitive to anyone who does not intimately understand their ecology.
All in attendance agreed that with the current oil crisis and the subsequent rise in food prices that will ensue, and since we live on an island and therefore vulnerable to changing circumstances in our food supply system, we need to take action to spread information locally about local wild food sources and how to use them sustainably and healthily. Dan has therefore agreed to lead monthly foraging walks, from now until the end of the year, and to teach locals and visitors what he has learned over decades of foraging on the West Coast. The information gathered will be published on the Food Program website, www.galianofoodprogram.ca. Contact us if you wish to participate.