Do you want to learn to forage? There’s an inclusive workshop right here in Los Angeles

Yof you were out and about on a recent Saturday in Silver Lake, you may have seen a small group of people from all kinds of backgrounds gathered around the steps in the heart of Micheltorena, picking and tasting things like Peruvian pink peppercorns, bougainvillea bracts and geranium leaves.

They examined spiny wild lettuce, soft purple sage that looked like lavender, sorrel (also known as sour grass), and loquats that hung over the sidewalk in a neighborhood near these famous steps.

They were learning to search for food.

A ‘safe space’ to forage

jessica lin He is the founder of Beyond The Body LLC and leads interactive foraging workshops throughout Los Angeles. Earlier this month, he led his first workshop as part of a BIPOC foraging series he created for Black, Indigenous and other people of color. His goal: to educate people in underserved communities about what is safe and healthy to eat in nature in urban Los Angeles settings.

An Asian woman in a gray T-shirt, jeans, glasses, and a dark green baseball cap stands near a colorful outdoor staircase pointing to plants on the left of the frame as people look at her with their backs to the camera.

Jessica Lin from Beyond the Body leading a BIPOC foraging event in Silver Lake.

(Brian Feinzimer



For Lin, foraging is about practicing self-care and sustainability. It’s a way to claim the land as a person of color and connect with the land. In her workshops, she pays homage to indigenous communities, such as the Tongva tribe, who lived on the land and farmed the Greater Los Angeles Basin for thousands of years before Spanish settlers arrived and took it over.

At these events, Lin said she seeks to empower people with knowledge, insight, curiosity and magic about the land around them, while connecting with others in Los Angeles and giving them a safe space to freely be themselves.

“I am honored to break the cycle in my family,” Lin said, adding that she has often been the only person of color at collection events she has attended in the past. “Foraging is an extension of my personal care and community care practice.”

A hand reaches out to touch bright fusia bougainvillea flowers.

Participants collect bougainvillea leaves during a BIPOC foraging event in Silver Lake.

(Brian Feinzimer



Lin described herself as a Chinese-American immigrant girl, queer and disabled. She is the first person in her family to be born in the US and she said that comes with intergenerational trauma. She said that she would go to the feeding grounds in Southern California and feel left out. That’s why she created these workshops.

“I looked around and all the classes are taught by old white men,” Lin said. “So I thought, okay, I have to represent.” Lin credits her friend Vardeh Batthe founder of Foraging and Mushroom Hunting Women of SoCal as someone he learned from, as well as his mother, who practices traditional Chinese medicine.

Lin said he considers people’s disability needs when planning outings. She specializes in foraging for edible plants, particularly those not available in stores or restaurants.

“I’ve seen spaces that I go to and pay attention to,” Lin said. “If there is only one trans person there, or one black person there, what does that say about the enablers? And the space they are creating? Are you thinking about that? Are they trying to improve it? Often, they’re not, you know? I think part of the purpose is to make the community aware that this exists, that it’s a possibility, even if people want to do it themselves. It’s a small intimate space.”

A close up of a black woman wearing sunglasses holding a bright pink bougainvillea flower and taking a bite of it.

Reporter Aaricka Washington tests a bougainvillea leaf while reporting on a BIPOC foraging event in Silver Lake.

(Brian Feinzimer



foraging in the city

Back in December As the podcast host Brian De Los Santos I went hiking and meeting with professional collector Jess Starwood in the Santa Monica mountains. In that podcast episode, we learned that foraging is a sustainable process that links us to the land.

And, like the popular “black picker” alexis nicole nelson has said, the art and practice of foraging has estate in black and indigenous culinary traditions from centuries ago. But over the years, people have been discouraged, or even banned, from accessing it.

Brian went out into the woods to look for food and Nelson also usually does his work in the wild. Lin takes them right to the center of the city.

The lesson

Lin began Saturday’s foraging lesson by laying out the plan for the afternoon. She introduced herself and asked about the others. She made sure the names of the people were correct. The overall goal, Lin said, is to create a relationship within that space so everyone can feel comfortable with each other and lower their defenses.

“It’s really important to have a safe space since we’ve historically been marginalized,” Lin said. “We still are today. And many times, if you look at foraging events, both instructors and attendees are a very homogeneous demographic. That comes partly from the history of this country. It comes from the patriarchy.”

After everyone had introduced themselves, put on sunscreen and bug spray, and sampled the kumquats Lin had picked in El Segundo before the event, it was time to head upstairs to observe, discuss, and eat some of the fruits, flowers and plants along the way. .

As the group walked, she told them how she approaches foraging: she doesn’t let people try anything she wouldn’t try.

(It’s really important to say here that you shouldn’t go looking for food on your own without some instruction on what to do and what NOT to eat. Some things that grow in our natural environment can make you seriously ill.)

Save money, develop survival skills

An Asian woman in a gray T-shirt, jeans, glasses, and a dark green baseball cap speaks to a diverse group of people in a shady area surrounded by foliage and a bright pink bougainvillea plant.

Participants in a BIPOC foraging event gather to explore wildlife on a set of stairs in Silver Lake.

(Brian Feinzimer



All of the workshop participants had various reasons for why they came that Saturday.

Alexis Sánchez said she wanted to take better care of her health and find ways to save money on food. “Groceries are extremely expensive right now,” Sanchez said. “Every time I go to the supermarket, I think… this is not right.”

Christine Chen was there to learn some survival skills; something she realized she needed after being stuck in Texas during a freeze: “I realized how vulnerable we are when things like that go wrong.”

Chen, who is new to Los Angeles, also wanted to meet other people.

Close up of a yellow and black bee pollinating a purple lavender flower.

A honey bee pollinates a lavender in Silver Lake.

(Brian Feinzimer



Carole Jones is a citizen of the Choctaw tribe. She has always been interested in camping and living in a house. “I like the idea of ​​foraging in the cities for food and learning more about what my ancestors did,” she shared.

Jada Taylor was also there to learn. She said that she is a spiritual advisor and activist who is starting an apothecary and a community garden focused on holistic practices.

This was the first foraging event he has attended.

“There are things available here, like you could be sitting right in front of the medication you need and you wouldn’t know it without classes or people like this,” he said. Like I like to make teas and I like all these things. Therefore, it is very important that I can gather and forage for food on my own.”

close up of two hands holding a big green leaf.

A spiny lettuce leaf found during a BIPOC foraging event in Silver Lake.

(Brian Feinzimer



As a black woman, she said she doesn’t feel the healthcare industry in this country is taking care of her the way it should. Therefore, it is important for her to understand what is out there in terms of alternatives to traditional medicine or herbs.

“We have to be preventative and so we don’t even get to that point where we need Western medicine like that,” Taylor said. “I’m not saying it’s not helpful, but we want to be as preventative as possible and keep our health in our own hands and our own control.”

Jessica Lin’s next BIPOC foraging event will be in Culver City on June 11. Check out her latest updates on her IG: jessbeyondthebody or follow her on eventbrite.

A BRIEF DISCLAIMER: Jessica Lin is an expert forager. Eating wild foods can be dangerous, even deadly. Please don’t do this unless you know what you’re looking for. Do your research or contact people who are knowledgeable.

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