Forager Bios

Where the Wild Things AreOur foragers are from the northeast — foraging from the wilds of Maine and the central Massachusetts region to Northampton and the Berkshires. We are excited to connect with nature and learn about wild edibles through their experience.

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Russ Cohen 

Russ Cohen, professional environmentalist and wild foods enthusiast, grew up in Weston, Mass. where he spent much of his free time in the woods, thereby cultivating a strong spiritual connection to nature.

He received his bachelor’s degree in land use planning from Vassar College in 1978, and received a masters in Natural Resources and a law degree from Ohio State University in 1982. He has been employed by the Riverways Program of the Mass. Department of Fish and Game since 1988, and has served as its Rivers Advocate since 1992. Past employers have included the Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust Alliance, the Hillside Trust, a land trust in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Mass. Audubon Society. Russ has received several awards for his rivers work, and a “Heritage Hero” award from the Essex National Heritage Commission in 2006 for his foraging writing and programs.

Russ is in his 38th year of teaching courses about wild edibles. Last year, he led over three dozen classes/walks, mostly from May to October, for over two dozen different organizations, including the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the New England Wild Flower Society, The Trustees of Reservations and the Appalachian Mountain Club. During the off-season, Russ writes articles on foraging and gives slide presentations featuring many of his favorite edible wild plants and mushrooms found in New England. Russ’ foraging book, Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, came out in June of 2004, and is now in its fourth printing. Russ currently resides in Arlington, Mass. For more info about Russ, visit his website.

Blanche Derby Blanche Derby

Blanche Cybele Derby is an artist, teacher, writer and wildfoods enthusiast who lives in Northampton, Mass. She has actively foraged for edibles for more than 40 years and makes these foods a part of her daily diet. She lectures/leads walks all over New England and is the author/illustrator of three books. Her latest project is the creation of a series of three films on edibles. To learn more, visit her website.

Aimee Gelinas

Aimee Gelinas, M.Ed., is a musician, cultural and environmental educator who founded Tamarack Hollow, an educational organization dedicated to “Inspiring environmental & cultural awareness, appreciation & stewardship” and provides musical, cultural and environmental education programs and curriculum-building for all ages. Aimee leads naturalist outings, plant and tree identification hikes, canoe trips, nature photo shows and wild edible walks throughout western Mass. for Mass Audubon, Trustees of Reservations, Mass Wildlife, DCR, Berkshire Eastern Mountain Sports and at Tamarack Hollow; 32 acres of boreal forest conservation land she preserved in Windsor, Mass. Tamarack Hollow was featured at the Massachusetts and Northeast Environmental Education Conferences in 2011 presenting Aimee’s nature photography of local fauna and flora: Native Nature; Foraging our Fields and Forests for Food, Art and Function; and the Wildlife and Ecology of the Housatonic River.

In 1994, she co-founded the world music drum, dance and vocal ensemble Gaia Roots, which she currently co-directs and co-produced a full length CD entitled Mother Drum in 2009.  She co-founded the Latin folk group Trio Candela and the original melodic rock band Sifer (CD released Divinity or Demise 2005).  In addition to nature programs, she teaches world music classes at Berkshire Community College, Hillcrest Educational Centers, Lichtenstein Art Center, Kripalu Center and Canyon Ranch. Visit Tamarack Hollow for more info.

Evan Strusinski

Evan Strusinski

Photo credit Wright/Redux Pictures

For Evan Strusinski, foraging became a natural extension of his interest in cooking, eating and the natural environment. Evan has 20-plus years experience foraging, both domestically and abroad and has gained a national reputation as an expert forager of plant and fungi. He has worked for a long list of renowned restaurants including Rene Redzepi, chef of NOMA in Copenhagen, Denmark, David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, Gramercy Tavern, Hugo’s, Primo, Tom Colicchio’s Craft and Mario Batali’s Del Posto. For more information about Evan, see articles in Outside Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and New York Magazine.

John Wheeler John Wheeler

John Wheeler is a founding member and president of The Berkshire Mycological Society. An amateur wild mushroom enthusiast for more than 23 years, John has been sharing his passion and knowledge of fungi through presentations at The Berkshire Botanical Garden, various garden clubs and Bartholomew’s Cobble, a trustees of reservations property. John also assists Professor Don Roeder with his mycology courses at Simon’s Rock College. He and his wife Judy own and operate the Mycolodge B&B in Housatonic, Mass., offering mushroom classes and forays on weekends.


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