CAIRO, W.Va. – The 44th Annual Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend is scheduled at North Bend State Park September 16-18. Nature Wonder Weekend began in 1968 with author and wild foods enthusiast Euell Gibbons as the guest naturalist. Gibbons may be best remembered for a Post Grape Nuts advertisement and the phrase “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.”
“It is at North Bend State Park where Gibbons made it okay to use and know about ‘foods from the land’,” according to Edelene Wood. For 44 years, attendees of Nature Wonder Weekend have gathered from across the country to stalk wild foods. “Back-to-nature is popular again,” Wood said.
Nature Wonder is a weekend package that includes activities, lodging, meals – including a ‘wild’ one, – hikes and presentations. “Individuals with wild food or outdoor experiences influenced by Gibbons are asked to submit a written letter,” said Wood. Letters submitted will become part of the Mugar Memorial Library of Boston University where Gibbons’ personal papers are stored. His book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and others are still popular. Gibbons died in 1975.
The National Wild Foods Association emerged as a result this event. Association President Edelene Wood has carried on Gibbons work along with others who share this interest. “They laughed about Euell Gibbons and his ‘wild food’ in the early years,” Wood recalled.
Gibbons advocated use of nutritious plants often overlooked. His gourmet approach to odd or unusual food deemed “wild” has again become a popular focus for television shows such as the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Food and No Reservations. Edelene Wood has attended and served as host every year since the event’s inception in 1968. Wood herself is well-known for wild food gathering and preparation.
The wild food guest expert for the 2011 Nature Wonder Weekend is John Kallas, who founded Wild Food Adventures in 1993. A botanist, nature photographer, writer, researcher and teacher, he has a doctorate in nutrition, a master’s in education, and majors in biology and natural science. Kallas is one of the foremost authorities on edible wild plants of North America.
Activities include gathering and preparing of a wild dinner. A Saturday wild foods social will feature Roasted Root Tea Bags provided by Traditional Medicinals of Sebastopol, CA. Sunday includes a morning service and wild food workshop with Don Gartman. The workshop discusses enhancements of the Euell Gibbons Nature Trail located at North Bend State Park.
Although wild foods are featured throughout the weekend, five conventional meals are part of the two-night, three-day event package. The weekend is open to the public but advance registration and reservation is required. The cost per person sharing a room is $158. Single occupancy and day-only rates are available. Additional information, event rates, and reservation forms are available online at www.northbendsp.com, Special Events, or by calling 304-558-2754.