Foraging in a Boreal Forest

June 2023

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Mushrooms, fiddleheads, wild rice, dandelion. We all know that there is an abundance of natural resources in the fields and forests of Northwestern Ontario, but we don’t always know what they are or where to find them. That’s where Jason Feller and his Foraging Walks come in.

“Foraging is a fantastic way of getting closer to nature and learning to respect our environment,” says Feller, founder of Thunder Bay’s Boreal Museum. “Our walks provide the basics of some common foragables, how to identify them, and most importantly how to be good stewards of our natural spaces. Around Thunder Bay, we have a lot of them!”

A lifelong resident of Thunder Bay and graduate of Lakehead University, Feller is an avid nature lover and science enthusiast. He founded the Boreal Museum in 2019 as a way to make learning science a lifelong adventure.

“It’s my mission to make science hands - on and fun,” says Feller. “To create the spaces I wish were available when I was growing up here in Thunder Bay.”

Using interactive and hands-on learning, the Boreal Museum strives to bring science into our communities, creating accessible education and engaging varied audiences in the natural sciences. They accomplish this through exhibits featuring natural history and in-house made science kits, as well as outreach and a variety of science-based programs. One of the more fascinating programs is the Foraging Tours around Thunder Bay.

“This will be our 3rd year running the Foragers Walks,” he says. “Largely, we are looking at edible plants in the spaces we cover, and naturally, those vary season by season. We run the walks from the end of spring, through summer and into the fall, but by late summer and fall, we start seeing some of our more charismatic foragables – mushrooms!”

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods…” – Lord Byron

Foraging Walks take place on public trails in the greenspaces behind the LPH and the Tree Farm. Each location has different environments and so the finds vary by location and season. Each tour has 20 spaces available, and Feller tries to run the tours twice a week.

“We try to make plenty of room for people to sign up, though in the past we’ve had to add in extra tours when certain seasons sold out quickly.”

With our thriving restaurant sector featuring locally sourced food, there seems to be a growing appetite for exploring and utilizing more of our local resources. I asked Feller if that was driving the interest in foragables and local food sources.

“I think since we’ve all spent the last few years sticking close to home, exploring the greenspaces around us and connecting with local nature more,” he says. “Additionally, with rising food costs as well, we are thinking a little more critically about our food sources and maybe how to offset these rising costs. Foraging may help to cut down on your grocery bill and incorporate some wonderful foods
that grow all around us.”

The Boreal Museum is currently located at 507 Victoria Avenue East, inside the Hub Bazaar, but will soon be moving to a bigger location late this summer. There, Feller hopes he will be able to offer even more fun and exhibits, bring science – and mushrooms – to Thunder Bay!

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

I went on my first Forager’s Walk this May, and I can assure you, it won’t be my last! For more information on Foraging Walks or the Boreal Museum, check them out on Facebook, Instagram, on YouTube as Borealmuseum or on the web at

Heather L. Dickson is a photoshop guru, zoologist and author of 6 novels.

Visit her website at

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