Review: Sam Thayer’s Foraging DVDs

Sumac, here photographed in New York, is covered in the DVD.

Sam Thayer is the author of “The Forager’s Harvest” and “Nature’s Garden,” which are my favorite how-to guides. His new two-DVD set, also entitled “The Forager’s Harvest,” is essentially a virtual plant walk version of the first book. It covers more than 30 different plants in comprehensive detail, including lamb’s quarters, sumac, cattail, stinging nettle, burdock, milkweed, waterleaf and some trees as well (choke cherry, basswood, black locust).

For each plant, Sam shows us what it looks like in different stages of growth and when it’s best to harvest, how to identify it and any lookalikes you need to know about (edible or otherwise). He tells us which habitats it grows in and explains why. For instance, we learn that ostrich ferns grow in river floodplains, and not because they need moisture, but because the periodic flooding exposes soil, which creates optimal conditions in which fern spores can germinate.

As someone very concerned with the sustainability of foraging, I love that Sam devotes a great deal of time to sustainable harvesting techniques. They are different for each plant he covers. This is an important subject for anyone who wants to be able to keep foraging years into the future.

As with his books, Sam is clear and concise. Also like his writing, he’s not afraid to toss in a silly joke, either, which I very much enjoy. (“For ostrich fern, get down and feel the groove,” he advises us, referring to a tell-tale characteristic in the stalk.)

Watching these videos is much like attending a foraging walk from your living room. The video footage is clear, well-edited and professional. You get a good look at each plant, including close-ups. That said, don’t expect anything fancy. It’s everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

Even though I already have his books, I benefited greatly from watching the DVD set and I highly recommend it to everyone, whether you’re new to foraging or quite experienced. Sam’s a skilled communicator who brings together botanical expertise and tons of time in the field. For the price of a plant walk, you can order it here.

Two thumbs up, definitely.

Wondering how to learn more about foraging but don’t live near any good plant walks? Or maybe you do, but also want to learn from the expert himself? This DVD is for you.

3 thoughts on “Review: Sam Thayer’s Foraging DVDs

  1. Samual Thayer is the probably best source for foraging food to actually consume. He has harvested, prepared and eaten all the plants he writes about. He tells you how practical a certain plant is to harvest. Also, he tells you when the best time to harvest the plant and how he prepares it. You will not regret buying all his books and DVDs – they will open a wild supermarket of actual wild food to you.

  2. I’ve had this video series on my watch list on ebay for a LONG time. Have gotten other videos of this type in the past that were utter disappointments. This review however may have tipped the scale and may motivate me to pull the trigger on these. Thanks Becky, good review!

  3. I agree, this is a really good set of DVDs. I would recommend people getting both the book and the DVDs, as the book contains lots of critical information that is not in the DVDs, but the DVDs provide more harvesting techniques and different views of the plants.

    I hope he does a DVD for Nature’s Garden too.

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