The Rapidian

Herbalist, food systems expert connects local people to local plants with foraging

Author, herbalist and forager Lisa Rose teaches community members about the importance of foraging and knowing your environment through her plant walks, workshops and published books.

/Megan Smith

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Upcoming Classes and Events

May 4: Spring Foraging & Wild Edibles Plant Walk at Roselle Park, Ada

May 5: Grand Valley Spring Foraging Plant Walk, GVSU Allendale Campus

May 11: Beneath the Blossoms: A Spring Forager’s Feast with Chef Tory O'Haire at Sietsema Orchards, Ada


For more information about these upcoming classes, visit Lisa Rose's website

Follow Burdock and Rose for foraging and local food tips:

/Lisa Rose

/Megan Smith

Eating healthy, natural, local food has gained popularity recently as knowledge about the importance of sustainability and eating local becomes easier to access. One way that people in the Grand Rapids area can learn more about eating and supporting a local food system is through the books, workshops and plant walks created by Lisa Rose of Burdock & Rose.

While she doesn't define herself as a naturalist, Rose does define herself as an expert leader in health and wellness - with a combination of expertise in local food systems, native plants and community health. She is a forager and herbalist by avocation, and runs a small business teaching the community about local plants and wellness. 

Rose dedicates her life to spreading knowledge and awareness of such topics through her books and through workshops throughout the Grand Rapids area.

She's also been foraging for as long as she could remember. Growing up near Lake Michigan, she says it was second nature to grow vegetables and eat them as a staple of her diet. Thus began her journey into foraging. 

“As a forager, I have learned to sense and anticipate the subtle changes in the seasons, almost like a sixth sense,” she says. “I feel empowered with this ability to read the wild world around me. I will always have the ability to find food and these skills to connect me to the natural world in a deep way.” 

About five years ago, with a wealth of knowledge about plants, herbalism and foraging, Rose decided to begin teaching workshops to help others get involved with the craft. Since beginning her classes, she has cultivated a very loyal community around the Grand Rapids area. 

“Returning to wild ways is a refreshing shift in our community’s way of life,” she says. “For health, economy, environment and justice, it’s now quite popular for folks to trade in their Kentucky bluegrass lawn for gardens and edible landscaping... Even if you are a city dweller, wild foods are everywhere: dandelions in the park, basswood flowers on the trees lining the streets (or) nettles growing in the rose garden beds.”

Rose says that foraging is not just about knowing the land, but knowing the plants there, too. Knowing the distribution of plants, the history of the land and plants and safety are all important factors to consider when venturing outside to forage. 

On March 24, Rose hosted "Foraging 101," a class about ethics, sustainability and the safety of wild food, at Ada Parks Learning Center. During the class, she invited the 30 attendees to "see where they live differently." 

Even with a chilly but fortunately not snowy or rainy day in March, though many plants and trees were still barren, the conifers with their always-green boughs as well as their newly produced sap provided conversation topics. 

After the walk, the class returned inside to try some of Rose’s pine tip tea and aspen extract- both completely foraged. Rose then talked about ways to use herbs and foraged foods, and how to do it responsibly.

Rose’s classes and workshops change with the seasons. In the winter, she focuses on herbal classes, ones that are mostly based in the kitchen, so people can relate what they’ve learned immediately instead of waiting for the seasons to change. During the summer, Rose focuses on getting outside and doing hands-on work. 

Rose is the author of "Grand Rapids Food," a book documenting the culinary revolution that has happened in Grand Rapids in recent years. Her next book, "Midwest Foraging," won’t be a follow-up but rather a book about foraging in the region in itself. The regional guide to doing your own foraging is due to be released this June.

“So many of us are seeking a connection to the land and to each other,” Rose says. “Foraging, local foods and community gardening connect us in a deeper way to the world around us... I believe that this is one reason foraging is gaining in popularity.”

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