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Wild Food Weekends scheduled for Bushcraft School

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By MISSY SHEEHAN
For The State Journal

Kristen Dorsey and Jason Drevenak want people to start thinking “wild” when it comes to their food.

Dorsey is a shamanic herbalist who teaches classes and workshops on wild edibles through her Martinsburg-based business, Divine Journeys. Drevenak is president of the North American Bushcraft School, a nonprofit organization offering survival, homesteading and sustainable-living classes in Hedgesville.

The two, along with Drevenak’s wife, Sera, and wild food chef Tina Gross, have combined forces to host their second annual Wild Food Weekend series at the North American Bushcraft School.

The seasonal events feature a day of edible wild plant identification, harvest, preparation and tasting with Dorsey and Gross, followed by a day of fire-pit cooking with Drevenak.

The next Wild Food Weekends are scheduled for July 19-20 and October 11-12. The cost is $150 per person, or $280 per couple, and includes overnight camping. Attendance is limited to about 18 to 20 people, according to Dorsey, who will kick off the July event.

“The first half of the day we’ll walk around and ID the plants,” she said. “We’ll point them out, pick them, sniff them and nibble them while we talk about their uses.”

Some of the readily available edible plants in the Eastern Panhandle include burdock, lamb’s quarter, chickweed, dandelion, honeysuckle, milkweed and more.

“We’ll also show you ways you can take wild plants and incorporate them into recipes that your family will actually eat,” Dorsey added.

The second half of the day, students will feast on a seven-course, wild edible meal prepared by Gross, who offers catering services from her home in Arlington, Virginia.

The menu includes sorrel-stuffed zucchini, gazpacho with mugwort, goldenrod flatbread with Zaatar (a Mediterranean spice mix made with sumac berries), milkweed macaroni and cheese, cucumber and purslane yogurt salad, lentils with lamb’s quarter and a wild-berry trifle with wild-mint whipped cream for dessert.

“Some wild food chefs use strictly wild food, and while it’s interesting and pretty, I’ve found people don’t want to eat it and or even cook it themselves,” Gross said. “A pile of bitter greens looks good and might work for some, but your family won’t want to eat it, and you won’t be excited about making it. So I make foods people will recognize and know taste yummy.”

After hanging out by the fire and camping under the stars that Saturday night, students will join Drevenak on Sunday for an exploration of fire-pit cooking methods. 

“I’ll show you how to control heat, how to use different types of wood to cook and smoke things, the different types of fires you can build, deflection and reflection of heat and how to use open flames and coals to cook anything from proteins and starches to vegetables,” Drevenak said. 

The Sunday meal will include options such as rainbow trout, chicken or turkey, butternut squash, corn on the cob — all cooked in the fire pit — and salad made with harvested greens. 

“We’re also going to bake a cake inside an orange peel,” Drevenak said.

Gathering and dining with others around the fire pit is one of the most important parts of the weekend, according to Drevenak. 

“That’s where human beings learn how to socialize, at places like around a fire pit,” he said. “You’re getting the opportunity to have conversations with people you’ve never met before and be outside talking about food and other random topics while carving the spoon you’re going to eat with.”

Aside from hosting Wild Food Weekends, the North American Bushcraft School offers summer camps, classes and workshops focused on wilderness medicine, emergency preparation, basket making, hide tanning, bow making and primitive fishing, among other topics. 

“We teach things like how to make tools with a stone and broken glass, how to produce fire using natural materials without modern ignition sources like lighters, how to make cord and rope using natural materials, how to fish without a fishing rod, etc.,” Drevenak said. “In a nutshell, we show you how to utilize what’s around to benefit you on a daily basis and how to balance your needs with the natural world.”

The North American Bushcraft School is located at 1435 Providence Church Road in Hedgesville. 

To reserve your space for an upcoming Wild Food Weekend, or to learn more about Divine Journeys and the North American Bushcraft School and upcoming events, visit divine-journeys.com and northamericanbushcraftschool.com