The Wild Edibles Festival in Hillsboro is one of the newest events on the Pocahontas County calendar, having started just four years ago. But the festival has gained in popularity by tapping into a widespread and growing interest in obtaining food from local sources and the health benefits of wild foods that can be foraged in Appalachian forests.
The Friends of Hillsboro Library and the Pocahontas County Nature Club co-sponsor the event, which is supported by the Hillsboro Library, Hillsboro Elementary School and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). The festival is part of the CVB’s Calvin W. Price Appalachian Enrichment Series.
A large number of visitors enjoyed a sunny day for Saturday’s event. Workshops were conducted in the library and elementary school, while several vendors occupied a fest tent across
from the library. A standing-room-only crowd in the library conference room listened to Mike Smith talk about foraging for survival. In the library proper, Pat Juergens and Adrienne Cedarleaf gave a class on wild greens, after which everyone enjoyed a “powerhouse salad” made with a variety of wild local greens.
At the school, Dawn Baldwin Barrett taught about herbal teas. Local vendors provided free samples of tonics, salves, teas and other wild plant concoctions. Dandelion, nettles, red clover, hawthorne berry, blackberry, prunella and coltsfoot were among the popular ingredients in the various elixirs and teas.
In the fest tent, Ian Caton, with Enchanter’s Garden Native Plant Nursery, in Hinton, displayed a beautiful collection of native flowering plants. Caton’s nursery specializes in native Appalachian plants, such as wild monkshood, hissop, bluestar, asters and chickweed. Blair Campbell had a table full of fresh ramps for sale, along with her gourmet ramp potato chips and ramp dip. The Pocahontas County Farmers Market offered custom-designed t-shirts.
Visitors had the opportunity to go on nature walks, during which they got hands-on experience in locating, identifying and harvesting wild edibles. Kelly Smith and Erica Marks led walks in the morning. Bob Must and Paulita Cousin led walks in the afternoon.
The next event in the Calvin W. Price Enrichment Series is a Heritage Crafts Show, to be held during the Little Levels Heritage Fair on June 27.