Have you ever wondered what you can pluck and eat from the urban forest?
Brockville’s next Jane’s Walk aims to answer that question – at least in theory.
The seventh local Jane’s Walk will take place on Saturday, May 4, and will be dubbed “Urban Foraging,” said organizer Dale Chisamore.
The event returns the Jane’s Walk themes to urban nature after the last local event, in 2017, explored the history of local buildings and public spaces in the downtown core.
The annual walk is named after Jane Jacobs, an American-Canadian journalist and activist whose work heavily influenced urban studies beginning in the late 20th century.
People from all around the world will participate in Jane’s Walks, said Chisamore, adding they are held “on every continent except Antarctica.”
Chisamore, a former Prince of Wales Public School teacher, got the idea to bring a Jane’s Walk to Brockville after attending one in Ottawa with his daughter.
The event is described as a walking conversation and is locally organized by volunteers in each of the communities in which it’s held. Since its inception in 2006, the event has grown to include 1,000 walks in over 250 cities around the globe.
“The idea is to get out on your feet and know your neighbourhood a little better than you would if you’re in your car,” said Chisamore.
He has often focused on Brockville’s green gem, the Brock Trail, to which he will return this year, but with a more culinary-historical twist.
“It’s the kind of little tidbits that you can find in the city’s wild spots,” said Chisamore.
For instance, said Chisamore, he recently picked rosehips from the Brock Trail and made a “simple syrup” out of them.
Chisamore stresses he is not inviting local residents to treat the Brock Trail or other urban spaces as their garden.
“If everybody went and started getting everything, there wouldn’t be anything left.”
Chisamore instead believes the walk will be more instructive about the foraging habits of previous eras.
Anyone with Southern European ancestry will be familiar with such practices as taking dandelions from the backyard to add to a salad, he said.
The talk could also provide insight into indigenous cultures, he added.
“We’ll take an inventory and see what there is out there,” said Chisamore.
“I’d like to give people a tiny bit of connection between (them and) the past,” he said.
“We kind of don’t realize what’s around us.”
And for many, the Jane’s Walk is, surprisingly, an introduction to the Brock Trail, said Chisamore, who keeps encountering people who did not realize the trail was there, “because they don’t get out of their cars.”
The Brockville Jane’s Walk starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the intersection of Elm Street and the Brock Trail, between Cedar and Beecher streets.
People who want more information about the event can contact Chisamore at firstname.lastname@example.org.