‘Wildman’ Steve Brill: Marine Park is better than any grocery store

Environmental expert and foraging specialist “Wildman” Steve Brill hosted a tour of Marine Park on Saturday to search for the elusive wild carrot. Along the way he found some chickweed, which he said, is not only edible, but delicious!
Photo by Bryan Bruchman

No matter what natural disaster looms around the corner, there remains one habitat in Brooklyn where residents can literally live off the land — Marine Park!

Naturalist “Wildman” Steve Brill will show everyone just how easy it is to find farm-fresh fruits and vegetables in a city park, just in case another disaster strikes, during a four-hour foraging tour of the Marine Park wetlands on Nov. 24.

“You can get stuff there that is fresh when your power is out and everything’s going bad in your fridge,” the “Wildman” explained.

“If we mess up our planet a lot more foraging is going to become more important.”

To Brill, Marine Park is a veritable Garden of Eden when it comes to sumptuous, uncultivated edibles, and while its sandy soil is bad for trees, it’s great for hardy roots and vegetables that benefit from the extra sun.

“The soil is poor, limiting tree growth, but benefiting plants that can take advantage of the unblocked sun and nutrient-poor soil,” Brill explained.

Feral fruits certainly grow in abundance, and frolicking foragers can expect to find winged sumac — great for pink lemonade in a pinch — and Autumn olive berries, which taste like the unclaimed offspring of raspberries, according to the foraging expert.

And there’s mushrooms, too! After 25 years of leading foraging tours in Marine Park, Brill says he’s found a grove full of tasty blewitt mushrooms not far from IS 278.

“They’re incredibly flavorful, very, very powerful and just as good as anything you’d find in a gourmet store,” Brill said.

Aside from leading foragers to the tasty plants — and away from the toxic ones — Brill will share some delectable recipes from his iPhone app, “Wild Edibles Full.”

“Our food supply is contaminated with preservatives and people’s health are already suffering,” Brill explained. “Getting out and enjoying the environment will keep you physically active and wild foods are more nutritious than stuff you’d buy in the corner deli.”

Foraging with Steve Brill at Marine Park [Avenue U and Burnett Street, call (914) 835–2153 at least 24 hours in advance to reserve a spot]. Nov. 24, 11:45 am. $20 suggested donation.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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