Category Archives: Foraging

Foraging Class (4/8) and Skills of Survival (4/15)..


Foraging Class – Saturday April 8th – PEMU

1 Day Wilderness Survival Class – Saturday April 15th – Skills Of Survival


Fall P.E.M.U. Recipes…


Another fall foraging class in the books!

I have been busy gathering acorns and just now getting around to posting recipes for the food we didn’t cook on the campfire:

Watercress Soup

Lamb’s Quarter Artichoke dip – just substitute lamb’s quarter for spinach

Acorn cookies – Bridget used this one for cookies but substituted 1 1/2 C almond flour, 1/2c regular flour. She also added 3 tablespoons butter, 2 eggs, and glazed the top with maple syrup coconut sugar reduction

The acorn cookies above were made by Tara, the leader of the Hurricane Wives Club, as comfort food while our loved ones weathered Hurricane Matthew. I wasn’t worried, but I ate more than my fair share..
1 cup acorn flour & 2 cups all-purpose
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda & 1 tsp hot water
1 tsp vannila extract
chocolate chips
Mix eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients. Cook at 350 for ~ 10 mins
The tribe sets out…

Swamp time…





Harry’s meal tickets..


Campfire feast..

To find out about future foraging classes, go here: P.E.M.U.

Feral Kids Wanted…


“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Halfway through the book I am reading for a project, I realize I need to do my part.

BPO’s new kid policy for foraging classes:

Kids under twelve are free with a parent or guardian

Kids aged 12 – 16 are half price ($25) with a parent or guardian

Learn more here:–edible–medicinal—-useful-plants.html



Best candidates for 2016…



Call me crazy, but I have more faith in the couple above making positive changes in our country than the buffoonery of our political system…


Scott and Stephanie won’t serve you up a bunch of political nonsense, false promises, and lies, but they will make you, your family, and the community healthier and stronger. Tucked into the mountains of Western North Carolina, they run Stoney Hollow Farm just outside Robbinsville, NC –



Along with their kids, they raise a variety of non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables for their farm store, u-pick, wholesale customers, and CSA program.(



“I thought this post was about politics”

It is, read on to see how supporting local growers change the nature of our country..

  • Your food doesn’t have to travel across the country or from overseas, thereby reducing the amount of fuel, pollution, and packaging associated with transportation
  • Most local growers follow more sustainable farming practices than the large monocrop model, therefore reducing pesticide and fertilizer use. Obviously that reduces pollution from those products, but it also has a trickle down effect on the production, transportation, and economics of that industry.
  • Buying local has a positive effect on the community by keeping money in that area,8599,1903632,00.html
  • Buying local builds good bonds and friendships, thereby strengthening the community
  • Supporting non-GMO and organic growers sends a monetary message that we don’t want all that crap in our food. Consumer demand can make or break products.
  • Healthier eating habits leads to healthier people. Healthier people = healthier country

I got to chat with Scott and his family about the farm, it’s history, and their goals.

In 1998, Scott sold his floor cleaning business and bought 150 acres outside Robbinsnville, cleared 10 acres of it, and started a fruit and produce farm. The crazy part of that story is that Scott didn’t grow up farming, he learned most of his knowledge from books and the school of hard knocks. A bold, life changing move like that takes guts, so I asked Scott his advice about the fear that can hold us back from taking big chances..

“You just have to go for it. And you can always go back if you are careful not to burn bridges”

Simple enough, but sometimes the simple things in life are taken for granted. Daily swims and eating every meal together keeps this family strong under the immense workload of the busy season.

Stephanie came from a banking background, but her love of jam making brought her to Stoney Hollow. Her goal of providing healthy food for her family has now grown much larger to include the community. Not only is Stephanie still making jams, but breads, pies, cookies, and a whole bunch of great tasting, healthy treats. Her side of the operation has now expanded to include baking, canning, and nutrition classes, focusing on food as part of a healing program.


A lot of u-pick farms sport only one type of fruit, while others grow only a handful of different veggies. Listening to customer demand, one of the hallmarks of Stoney Hollow is the diversity of fruits and vegetables. To see the what’s in season, visit the website, but here is what they typically grow:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries – red & black
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Cherries – sweet & sour
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash – summer & winter
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Watermelons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Flowers

If you aren’t up for picking yourself, you can call, email, or Facebook message 24 hours in advance to pick up the next day. You can also stop in at the farm store for pre-picked produce, eggs, honey, and all the baked goods.


Being an outdoor educator, I have seen my fair share of kids that do not have strong ties to the land. A product of our times. the lack of skill transfer from generation to generation has been breeding a population that is dependent on others for basic human needs.

Scott and Stephanie’s children are definitely an exception to the current trend. Being home-schooled on the farm, they lead a healthy, active life that involves farm work and customer service. I see kids being kids, but also learning practical skills for life  and and forging a super strong work ethic.

Emily, a master at customer service, says that her favorite part of living and working on the farm is the “educational aspects when visitors come from far way.” Landon, a professional weeder by trade, can identify more plants at five years old than most adults. He can also show you where the best berries are and doubles as security when he turns into the “One-Boot Bandit”..

I could keep raving on, but for the sake of brevity, I am going to summarize some other points:

  • Scott is incorporates a plethora of sustainable practices including crop rotation, composting, green manures, cover crops, plastic mulch, seed saving, and organic pest control. Got a growing question during your visit, just ask.
  • Integrated planting has helped with pest control, but birds, bears, and other critters get their share.
  • 2017 CSA will open up for orders in December or January
  • Wholesale orders are available. Tapoco and Snowbird Lodge are two of the local fine dining restaurants that take advantage of that program.
  • Stoney Hollow had it’s first intern this year. More to follow.
  • Hold your grocer accountable.” If they advertise local produce, make sure they offer a good selection
  • If you want to make Stoney Hollow a family getaway, there are several campsites nearby – Santeelah, Cheoah, Rattler Ford, etc. There is also whitewater rafting nearby, several lakes, and tons of hiking trails
  • Future plans include more internships, kitchen workshops, grower’s workshops, expanding the orchard, and more forest farm products
  • Scott is available as a consultant and is especially passionate about getting operations like his started in areas with higher population densities

When I asked Scott for a parting message, it wasn’t “come visit us” or “buy our produce”.

Instead, his unselfish message revolved around the food security issues our country faces as we lose diversity in our crops, import more food, and continue to lose skills of self-reliance. With almost two decades of professional farming experience, this humble grower wishes that everyone would grow a garden.

I can’t help but think that emphasizing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle centered around an independent food source while supporting the local community and transferring that knowledge to the next generation will make America greater than anything coming from the puppet show in D.C…

Vote with your money and find local growers in your area:


one boot



Rescuing Naked Foragers…


Three worlds collide in a BigPig news update..

Due to technical difficulties, a.k.a. moving further into the mountains, I have had limited computer access of late, but stuff has been brewing in the land of many pigs..

Two foraging events:

Spring Poisonous, Edible, Medicinal & Useful workshop is scheduled for Sunday, April 10. You can find out more here:–edible–medicinal—-useful-plants.html

I will be the keynote speaker at the awesome North Carolina Wild Foods Weekend. I wrote about this event a couple years ago, and I am honored to be speaking about foraging and survival. There are a ton of great instructors at this family event.To learn more about this event, click here:


Search & Rescue:

Lot’s of good stuff brewing with the BUSAR team, including attending the Virginia SAR conference. I will be teaching a 2 day “Wilderness Survival for SAR Personnel” class and the BUSAR boys will be leading daily PT sessions. Click here to learn more:

Also lined up is the Virginia SAREX in May. Click here to read more about this full scale SAR exercise.

Naked, but not Afraid!! 

Last year, I had the pleasure of training Melissa LeEllen for her episode of Naked & Afraid. Her episode will be aired this season, possibly in July. I will make another post as we get closer, but you can read more here: Go Melissa!!

Top Five Myths About Herbalist School…


Sometimes I can’t help but chuckle..

It is my first day of herbal medicine school, and I am standing in a circle of twenty plus women, listening to how they felt when we meditated with a plant for ten minutes. I am not chuckling because of what they are saying, but because of the swinging pendulum of my life and wondering what my last set of classmates would think if they were in this circle right now.

Flashback five years ago, and I am the 200 pounder looking to crush crime in the back row. My days are filled with physical training, shooting, scenarios, pursuit driving, and legal classes. I can’t get enough, so I hit the gym after classes and roll at the BJJ school several times a week. With only four women in my class, the air is dank with testosterone. I thrive..


Flash forward to April of 2015, and I am enrolled in an eight month herbalist program at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Asheville.


Once again, I am in the back row, but the air is a little sweeter with only four males in the class. Any attempt at hiding the fact I am a professional hunter/trapper and former law enforcement would be futile, as the intuition of women have me pegged before the day’s end.

Thirsting for growth on my own botanical journey, I picked this school because of the heavy field element and botanical street creds of the instructor, but I quickly realize within minutes, that I have stepped out of my element.

Eight months later, I couldn’t be happier. On day one, I intended to blog about my experience each month, but something happened that first day while staring at a dandelion leaf. I gave myself permission to relax and just enjoy the class. To reconnect with the child like wonder of days past. To experience the course as a whole, without picking it apart, and just see where it took me.

I ended up in a place that my journeys often end. A place where I realize that I have been robbed of essential life knowledge by conditioning, society, and our modern-day culture. Once again, I vow to change that as I raise my son, but also to do my part in changing the world.

So, without further adieu, I venture forth to debunk the  “Top Five Myth’s About Herbalist School”..

Myth # 1: You must have a vagina to be an herbalist..

When you think of herbal medicine, do you picture granny herbalists? Barefoot hippy chicks with flowers in their hair?

Well there are plenty of them, but there are also scores of great herbalists that are men. My teacher, Juliet Blankenspoor, lists three teachers in her herbal lineage and all of them are men; 7song, James Snow, and Micheal Moore.

Go back past them and there are the heavy hitters of herbal history such as Tommie Bass, Jethro Kloss, and  Samuel Thomson.


In today’s society, or at least the one I came up through, it is not manly to be into plants or flowers. I call bullshit, as one only needs to go back several generations to find the majority of men working the land, foraging, and understanding medicinal herbs. Go back even further and you will see even more dependence on wild plants for food and medicine.

Still not convinced you can retain “man-points” and study herbalism?

How about the Shaolin monks who study herbs so they can heal themselves faster, just so they can beat the shit out of each other again and again?


If your Mandarin is a little rusty, you can take your point up with former Special Forces medic, fighter, primitive skills instructor, and herbalist Sam Coffman. He is also a linguist, so he can probably help out with the Shaolin Monks as well.


The basic point is that there is nothing “girly” about learning about herbal medicine. Kyle, a carpenter by trade, and I laughed about the probable reaction of the guys on his job site if he rolled in on Monday morning and told them about finding a good patch of goldenrod or echinacea.

That needs to change, as I know tons of dudes that can hunt, run AR’s, or kick ass in the cage, but only a few that can do all that and heal themselves or their families with plants from their area. The latter get mad “man-points” in my book.

No matter what “equipment” you are packing, your political party, your race, your nationality, or religion, herbs don’t care. In a world of differences, reliance on plants for food and medicine, are one of the few things that we all share.

Be “manly”, study plants. Raise your sons and daughters to do the same. They will thank you and the world will be a better place.

Myth # 2: Herbal medicine is ineffective and for quacks…

If that were true, I am pretty sure the human race would be extinct. If I had a crystal ball,  we could look into all our pasts and see a sick relative being cured with herbal remedies by the fire in some dingy, bark hut. Keep watching and that ancestor went on to sire the generations that brought us here today.

But I have no crystal ball, so we have to look at the source of modern-day pharmaceuticals. In the US, out of the top 150 prescription drugs, 87 are derived from plant sources and 31 come from other natural sources.

According to some sources, eighty percent of the world’s population uses herbs as their primary medicine.

Not only are there thousands of years of historical use, but there is also science behind the efficacy of herbs. One of our required texts, read more like a biochemistry text than anything.

unnamed (1)

In fact, if one rolls over to PubMed, you can find studies from all over the world focusing on plants for medicine. Here is a quick search for the Passionflower shown above, showcasing 504 results

Plants aren’t backed by multi-national pharmaceutical conglomerates, but they don’t have to be, as their medicine is all around us and we each have the ability to access it. Herbs truly are the “people’s” medicine.

I guess now is a good time to point out that if your appendix is bursting or you have some other emergency medical condition,don’t go foraging, get to the damn hospital!! The level of  herbal treatment that we can all access with ease would be for our common complaints, such as colds, flu, boosting your immune system, low-grade infections, and managing chronic diseases.

Last year I went to the doc for a swollen inguinal lymph node. I left  with no physical examination, but with a prescription after he punched my symptoms into an app on his tablet. While frustrating, it was a catalyst to help me take a closer look at how I manage my health.

Since then, within my tribe, I have:

  • treated myself with elderberry syrup for a flu that Granny gave me. I whipped it in the same amount of time as her Tamiflu scrip
  • treated my buddy with mountain mint tea for severe gas pain
  • knocked a cold out of the same guy with goldenrod and honeysuckle tincture
  • used goldenrod tea for my son’s snotty cold
  • used slippery elm bark for diarrhea
  • used plantain salve on all my cuts and bruises
  • combined herbs and prescription drugs when my wife’s milk supply took a hit due to my boy’s tongue tie
  • used herbal aids for teething and rough nights with our boy
  • used nettle and raspberry leaf teas during my wife’s pregnancy

My health plan is to eat well, exercise, and treat what I can myself. Herbal medicine does not have all the answers, but it’s got a lot, and finding that balance is the path I am on now.

Myth # 3: Herbal medicine and contemporary medicine don’t mix..

While there are certain herbs that interfere with prescription drugs, many herbs can complement Western medicine practices.

There is also a whole profession that studies and employs herbs and other modalities called naturopathic medicine. Blending several worlds together, naturopaths have a firm foundation in herbal medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Our class had a diverse background, but in attendance was a pharmacist and a naturopath. Their newfound friendship is rife with the symbolism of two worlds combining for the same goal, even if it was initiated by margaritas and dancing.

Myth # 4: Making medicine is complicated..

Can you change your own oil?

How about field strip an AR?

Those tasks are way harder than making simple medicine.

Infusions and decoctions only require boiling water, something even I can accomplish in the kitchen..


If you can pour alcohol in a glass, you can make a tincture.

unnamed (4)

Salves are just infused oils mixed with beeswax.

unnamed (3)

If you can identify the plant and follow directions, you can make medicine.

If you can’t, you can always just buy it here:

Myth # 5: Herbalists have hairy armpits..

Well, based upon my official, eight month study*, I have to say this is only half-true..

*(No pit kittens were harmed during this study)


I started my course with a good base of plant knowledge, but I left with the ability to apply that to  my family’s health.

Exposure to a multitude of guest instructors, different ecosystems, and Juliet’s knowledge, experience, and quirky wit, also allowed each of us to leave the class as better inhabitants and stewards of this world.

If you are ready to sign up, I have bad news. My class was the last field program, as Juliet has embraced her introvert side and has shifted towards the virtual realm. The good news is, that they will undoubtedly be outstanding classes, taught by a badass herbal warrior!!

Upcoming online medicine making class:

Immersion program in development:

Thanks to Juliet, all the guest instructors, and my classmates for a great learning experience and good times.

Lots of love and special thanks goes to my awesome, supportive wife for all the weekends camping, taking care of our boy, and bumming around Asheville, while I got to go play in the woods.