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Nature’s Bounty Highlighted at Library Presentation

Naturalist John Root displays some potted plants during his presentation of "Edible Wild Plants of the Northeast", at the Milford Library. The presentation, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, took place August 17.

Prior to his 90-minute presentation on edible plants, John Root did what any other avid naturalist would do - he canvassed the area, looking for a snack. Actually, snacking wasn't really on his mind, but by taking an inventory of the edible plants growing wild, adjacent to the grounds of the Milford Town Library, Root could illustrate his point that we would find edible plants all around us, if only we had the knowledge to recognize them.

Armed with a Power-Point presentation and a vast knowledge of New England plant life, Root provided information on finding, identifying and preparing the various edible plants that grow wild in our region. The presentation took place August 17 and was sponsored by the Friends of the Milford Library.

"I always loved plants," the aptly named Root explained. His Naturalist education began in college, when an instructor would take his class out "every Saturday, to a different part of the Ohio countryside and tell us all about the plants". This was back in the seventies, "so I've been foraging for a long time," he noted.

Each of the plants covered in his presentation was projected on a screen, showing the various varieties of the same plant, while Root relayed the optimum time to harvest the plant and suggested various ways to prepare the plants, in order to fully enjoy their natural flavors and nutritional value.

The presentation was designed merely as an introduction to the edible plants growing all around us and it was strongly advised that novices conduct more research before eating anything found in the wild. His point was underscored when one of the attendees told a chilling story of a friend who unknowingly consumed wild Hemlock. Hemlock is extremely poisonous and is known to cause fatal injury.

Although a nuisance to homeowners, the common Dandelion was cited as one example of an edible plant. The lawn-variety, Root pointed out, was not ideal for eating, but those found in the wild could be a treat when it's leaves were sautéed, steamed or used in a salad. The buds, picked while still at ground level were tasty when cooked or pickled and Dandelion roots are often roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Among other edible plants that Root recommended were: wild lettuce, Ox-eye daisy; Chicory and wild berries such as June berry, Elderberry and Blackberries.

Root, describes himself as a Naturalist and Educator and brings a variety of programs to cities and towns across the state. "I've seen John Root before," Carol Walker, Secretary of the Friends of the Library, noted, "in Hopedale." She, along with Susan McAvoy, also of the Friends, were on hand to enjoy the presentation. "This type of program is surprisingly popular in the area," Walker conveyed.

Along with his program on Edible Plants of the Northeast, Root also offers programs on: Healing Plants of the Northeast, Mushrooms of the Northeast and Wild Flowers of the Northeast. Root's presentations are not limited to plant life alone, also covering Butterflies and Songbirds of the Northeast.

In addition, Root is also a professional musician who, in addition to singing, playing piano, saxophone, flute and clarinet, offers several unique music programs. Those programs cover music of the Gaslight era as well as popular music from the 1920's through 1950's.

As well as providing information on various wild plants, Root also offers potted varieties for sale at his presentations. These include Hearty Kiwi's, Ground Nuts, Chicago Hearty Fig and his top-selling offering, the Flying Dragon Hearty Orange.

More information on Root and his various programs can be found at .


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