RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - Looking to explore the great outdoors this weekend? You don’t have to go far. Fort McAllister has a full slate of activities.
They’re offering edible plant hikes to show you what you can and can’t eat out in nature. You’ll also learn about plants that have medicinal and other practical uses.
Naturalist Autumn Pinault leads the hikes. She says the activity is aimed to prepare outdoorsmen in case they find themselves stranded from a boat wreck or other unforeseen event.
Pinault said hikers usually have a couple of favorite plants.
“Farkleberries. A lot of people really like those, and we also have high bush blueberries in the spring," Pinault said. “Also, the heart of palm is really, really popular, especially in Florida. They have a festival down there called the Cabbage Palmetto Festival, where they just go out and harvest a whole bunch of these things and eat them."
She says “edible” and “tasty” don’t always go hand-in-hand on the trail.
"The worst tasting thing is much easier. This is what they call a saw palmetto, over here. And I’ve not eaten one, I’m going to be honest. Like, I’m not quite brave enough just yet. Really late summer, early part of the fall, they put on berries. And Desoto and his men had actually shipwrecked somewhere along the St. John’s River and had been wandering around for days without food, hadn’t eaten for days. They didn’t know the land, so they didn’t know what they could and couldn’t eat. Some native people found them, brought them back to their village. And the chief was actually in their eating these particular berries, and when he was done eating them, he presented them to the men, who began to try to scarf them down because they hadn’t eaten in for days. But unfortunately, they weren’t able to get them down, because they described them as a combination of rotten blue cheese dipped in tobacco juice.”
In addition to the scenery and the survival knowledge, Pinault says the hike also provides her with a big opportunity to teach visitors about the history, as well as ecology and our relationship with the land.
You’ll have to pay $4 plus the $5 parking fee to participate. Park officials say these hikes have seen a pretty big spike in popularity recently, so even though reservations aren’t required, you’ll want to call the park ahead of time if you want to make sure there’s space for you (912-727-2339). They also stress the park has a “leave no trace” policy.
Edible Plant Hikes
- Saturday, Feb. 15:
- 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Feb. 16:
- 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.