Let's Get Acquainted

so you want to learn to forage

If you're reading this page, you probably have some questions about foraging, and I bet that one of your primary concerns is safety. I've been doing this for years, and I'm here to help. 

I know the idea of wild edibles makes some people nervous, but I hope you won’t let that stop you from exploring the wonderful world of foraging. No one wants to make the headlines by feeding their family poison hemlock, so let me teach you how to forage safely.

I’ll show you which plants are safe to eat and which aren’t. I’ll explain when to harvest, and how to process and preserve your foraged plants and mushrooms so you can enjoy them all year long. And I’ll give you so many delicious, unusual recipes for these un-buyable flavors that you’ll eat like royalty. I’m confident I can make you confident.

Ready to get started?

The Backyard Forager

Instructor Bio:

I moved to NYC sometime in the last century to be an actor. I know, I know, it’s an age old story, small town girl moves to NYC, lands a role on Broadway, decides she’d rather be a horticulturist, and starts her own garden design, installation, and maintenance business. You’ve heard it many times before.

But seriously, after leaving the cast of Les Miz on Broadway, I went back to school at the New York Botanical Garden and earned certificates in both ornamental horticulture and ethnobotany. For many years I taught at the NYBG on a wide range of subjects (basic gardening techniques, perennials, annuals, orchids, container gardening, house plants) and ran my roof top gardening business.

As I learned more about plants I noticed that many traditional ornamental plants had edible and medicinal histories. I wondered why we didn’t eat hostas any more, and why people planted hopniss for its flowers rather than its delicious, potato-like tubers. Gradually, my interest shifted from plants that were merely ornamental to plants that fed both body and soul, the eyes and the stomach.

I started out foraging in the garden, because I knew the plants there were safe from potentially dangerous insecticides and herbicides. Soon I ventured out into the wilds of Central Park, the woods of Pennsylvania, the deserts of New Mexico, the islands of Scotland, and the gorges of Greece. In other words, I’m always looking for delicious, free food!

I’m a Harvard graduate and the author of eight books including Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, The Wildcrafted Cocktail, and The Forager's Pantry. I work with RemyUSA, teaching foraging mixology workshops across the US, and I lecture at botanic gardens, flower shows, and for garden clubs around the world.

Ellen Zachos

The Backyard Forager

Ellen's work has been featured in:

  • Eating Well Magazine
  • Edible New Mexico
  • Backwoods Home
  • The Cook's Cook
  • Fine Gardening