The Renfrew Institute hosted its first program in a three-part lecture series discussing the history of Pennsylvania’s forests and wildlife.
In the first lecture, Dr. David Foster, a professor of biology and environmental science, shared his experience with foraging through a hands-on presentation.
“I’d say the most important thing I’ve learned over the years is just cause it’s natural and wild, it doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Dr. Foster. “If you go eat out of your neighbor’s medicine cabinet you’re going to be just as dead as you go out and eat in the woods without knowing what you’re doing.”
So in a similar manner to how Native Americans taught foraging, Dr. Foster allowed people to touch, taste and smell local flora.
“Pennsylvania has a rich history of this, so there’s a village site in Lancaster County that was a village for nearly 500 years,” said Dr. Foster. “And it’s one of the richest plant sites in the eastern United States. It has more than 71 species of native wild flower and plants and more than 65 percent of those are edible, useful for fiber, food or medicine even today.”
Dr. Foster emphasized how such a biome has an extensive history of people cultivating it.
“And I think it gives us a great hope for the future as we relearn these things; we may have to recreate these habitats,” said Dr. Foster.