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Resorts Are Training Guests in the Sustainable Practice of Foraging

Guides are teaching travelers about the health and sustainability benefits of hyperlocally sourced cuisine

Heckfield Place, Hampshire, England / Photo: Courtesy of Heckfield Place

For millennia, earth’s forests and coastlines have kept us fed—and increasingly, travelers can learn to sustainably harvest from the land. The experience?

Expert-led foraging trips. The practice dates to the earliest humans who had a fluency in the land and its plentiful ingredients. Agriculture and domestication of animals largely changed this, although many Indigenous communities have retained and continue to rely upon their ancestral knowledge of local ecosystems. These days, resorts and guides are teaching travelers about both the art of foraging and the health and sustainability benefits of hyperlocally sourced cuisine. It’s also a chance to unwind with many of the soothing benefits of forest bathing built in. “When we’re foraging, you’re looking down a lot, so we have little stops to look up at the canopy, or just have a silent moment,” says Kirsten Dixon, owner of Tutka Bay Lodge, which runs an array of experiences on its spruce-forested sliver of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

Foraging with chef Adam Lawrence, Tutka Bay Lodge, Homer, Alaska / Photo: Courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge

In addition to scouring the woodlands for ingredients such as wild berries and spruce tips, Tutka Bay Lodge guides also lead guests on strolls along the low-tide shoreline to collect items such as seaweed and beach lettuce. After foraging, the chef hosts a cooking class. Participants can share and explain the final product—a freshly foraged starter—with fellow guests during “appetizer hour,” says Dixon.

Although the act of eating locally, especially this locally, offers planet-friendly benefits like reducing waste and minimizing food-transit miles, foraging does require sustainability protocols. “In our case, foraging is infinite and easy, but we do have a strict rule: Never take more than 25 percent of what you’re picking,” says Dixon.

Crispy potato bake with crème fraîche and sea urchin at Nimmo Bay Resort, Port McNeill, Canada / Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Koreski

While interest in foraging is on the upswing, it’s important to know what you’re picking. Poisonous plants, such as certain types of mushrooms or berries, are aplenty. That’s why guided foraging tours are essential for beginners— and for that, the options and variety of experiences, and ingredients, abound.

Guests at the Conrad Singapore Orchard can travel to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, to join arborists and botanists on a foraging excursion. This multisensory trip, which oscillates between smelling, feeling and foraging for edible bites, finishes with a curated tasting that overlooks the gardens’ tranquil lake.

Bushtucker Talk & Taste, Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island, Australia / Photo: Courtesy of Kingfisher Bay Resort

To learn about nature’s healing power, book a stay at Pennsylvania’s The Lodge at Woodloch, located in the Pocono Mountains, where a certified herbalist teaches guests how to identify nutritious and healing plants. Down under, at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Australia’s K’gari (Fraser Island), rangers lead guests deep into the bush to showcase not only forageable foods, but also the Indigenous Butchulla community’s knowledge of the local flora—such as how chewing on cinnamon myrtle leaves can numb the mouth and reduce toothache pain.

Like Tutka Bay Lodge, waterfront resorts around the world host seaside foraging outings. In craggy West Wales, travelers can stay at one of Retreats Group’s properties, such as the 12th-century Roch Castle hotel, to try coastal foraging and learn about edible seafood and the local ecosystem. Freshly harvested ingredients, such as mussels, can be cooked for dinner that night. Another waterside retreat, family-owned Nimmo Bay Resort, tucked within British Columbia’s wild Great Bear Rainforest, operates immersive, tide-to-table trips that blend adventurous coastal foraging with inventive fine dining, all among a remote and biodiverse landscape.

Foraging doesn’t get more quintessentially Italian than truffle hunting. Sustainable escape Borgo Pignano, located on a nature reserve near the hill town of Volterra, links guests with truffle hunters and their dogs to search for these elusive and prized fungi (September and October promise the best odds). Casa di Langa, in Italy’s bucolic Piedmont region, also operates truffle-hunting trips to spot the lauded white and black fungi on-site.

Try field-to-bar mixology with a foraged cocktail-making workshop at Heckfield Place, a regal getaway in Hampshire, England. Guides help guests handpick plants, herbs and flowers that will be used in cocktail preparations in the garden-flanked Glass House.

And the fun extends beyond the table. At Jamaica Inn, located in Ocho Rios on the country’s northern coast, wellness travelers can participate in a new farm-to-spa foraging experience. Guests hunt for natural ingredients in the inn’s tropical gardens. The spa then uses their finds in offerings such as the Piña Colada Body Scrub, a coconut-oil and dry coconut treatment that smells as good as it feels.