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Harvesting the forest: Where (and how) to forage for mushrooms and edible plants in Ontario

Where to go, what to harvest, and how to forage safe and responsibly throughout the province.

Ontario’s forests are particularly lush this time of year. They’re full to bursting with countless varieties of edible plants and mushrooms.

If you’ve ever fancied yourself a forager or are eager to learn, there are several spots throughout the province where you can see firsthand how it’s done and work with a knowledgeable guide. Join a tour or attend an event—and later eat and enjoy the spoils of all your hard work. 

These are the best kinds of experiences, where you have the opportunity to learn something new and come away with some skills to carry forward; you might even have a few new recipes to impress your loved ones with.

Puck’s Plenty Foraging Tours: Stratford, ON

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These foraging tours in Southwestern Ontario will take you through beautiful woodland trails just outside the Stratford area. You’ll learn all kinds of valuable skills, from how to identify wild edibles and mushrooms and how to harvest them prudently, to how to appreciate the wonderful flavours and health benefits of your newfound treasures. The colours and varieties found in the forest will amaze you. Novelist and naturalist Peter Blush has thought of everything, including recipes organized by season. His Forage & Feast events have been named one of the “Top 10 Adventures to Have this Summer” by Marriott International. 

Wild Muskoka Botanicals: Dwight, ON

At Wild Muskoka Botanicals, they believe in the power of connecting to nature and the importance of learning land-based skills. You can sign up for one of their classes and workshops on Eventbrite; many are so popular they are already sold out, though a few tickets do remain and new classes continue to be added to the calendar. The Summer Foraging Workshop, for example, will show you which plants and mushrooms are edible and medicinal, and you’ll learn how to incorporate them into your everyday life. You can identify and forage for mushrooms at different locations throughout Muskoka, including the Torrence Barrens Dark Sky Preserve, Wild Muskoka’s own farm property and the Bracebridge Resource Management Centre. 

RAIN: The Rural Agri-Innovation Network: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

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The Rural Agri-Innovation Network in Algoma hosts a one-day Forest Food Entrepreneur Workshop in Sault Ste. Marie at the end of the summer. Two days later, it is followed by an Edible Wild Plant Hike. Both are led by Frank Bellau, who will teach you about the edible and medicinal properties of a variety of herbs, shrubs and trees. 

Sudbury Area Mushroom Hunters and Foragers: Sudbury, ON 

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This Facebook group has over 1,000 members—a testament to the popularity of foraging these days. Anyone who is interested in learning how to identify mushrooms and forage in the wild is welcome to join. It’s a fantastic group: members post fascinating photos from their outdoor adventures and explorations and receive, in return, great input and advice that everyone learns from. 

Additional resources:

These foraging tips from Northern Ontario Travel are especially helpful. They outline what you can expect to find in various parts of the province (and when) and how to harvest responsibly, as well as some essential safety tips.

The Northern Forest Foraging Guide from Ontario Nature is especially detailed—a great resource for anyone heading out into the forest to try their hand at foraging.