The Afikomen Project
Coming Home to Nature's Garden

beauty berryThe Afikomen Project is a public wild foods education program. Our goal is to have, by 2030, every child in the United States be able to safely identify and harvest the ten most common wild foods in their area. We are moving towards that goal by training schoolteachers across the country to teach foraging.

The Afikomen Project is the first widespread foraging training initiative in the world. It is based on the well-known proverb, “give people fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish, and they eat for a lifetime.” We believe that being able to feed yourself from nature is, as much as math and literacy, a basic skill. By teaching children to forage “for food and profit,” we are promoting national food security and establishing sustainable local economies in the process.

Since hunger is closely related to poverty, The Afikomen Project establishes local markets for surplus produce, and this, in turn, funds the project. These wild foods markets serve as a ready outlet for young foragers' “catch of the week,” building their self-worth and local food independence at the same time. In other words, whatever food the children don’t use to feed their families is sold at market. These local wild foods markets are staffed by project-trained experts to ensure proper identification and quality control. Proceeds from the sale of this produce, in turn, pay for future classes.

This local, closed-loop economy is based on the quintessential renewable resource: the bounty of nature. It offers a lasting, effective solution to both food scarcity and unemployment. Foraging feeds people, not through continued dependence on unsustainable industrial agricultural systems, but through community self-reliance. Foraging doesn’t just create jobs; it creates self-employment. This is true American independence.

feral applesThe Afikomen Project's pilot city is Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is situated in The Katuah Bioregion, the richest temperate ecosystem on earth. With over one hundred common local wild edibles, all free for the taking, Asheville sits in a veritable “Garden of Eden.” Yet Asheville also has the third worst hunger problem in the country. The Afikomen Project addresses this incongruity with an obvious, permanent solution: by empowering local families to feed and fend for themselves.

The Afikomen Project's initial market is The Asheville Wild Foods Market. The market sells wholesale to over 75 restaurants and retail to the general public.

The Afikomen Project is currently working with The Asheville City Schools Foundation's "In Real Life" program at Asheville Middle School (see photos here). We are seeking funding to expand our program independently to Enka Middle School and beyond. Donations are tax-deductible. For more information, contact us.

For more about The Afikomen Project and why we need it, read "The Key to Ending Hunger." For an audio interview and slide show about wild foods in general, see here.

The Afikomen Project is endorsed by:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, world-renowned pioneer and best-selling author in the field of integrative medicine
  • James A. Duke, PhD, thirty-year economic botanist for the USDA, advisor to The World Health Organization and The National Cancer Institute, and author of over twenty-five books, including The Green Pharmacy and Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants
  • Nathalie Dupree, author of fifteen cookbooks and host of nine cooking shows, three-time James Beard award-winner, Grande Dame d’ Escoffier, and 2013 French Master Chefs Woman of the Year
  • Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution will not be Microwaved
  • Amy Padolf, Director of Education, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
  • Dr. Douglas Schar, ten-year herbal editor for Prevention
  • Dr. Jeanine Davis, the regional authority on nontimber forest products
  • Cindy Threlkeld, Executive Director, MANNA Food Bank (which distributes over 10 millions pounds of food a year through 231 partner agencies)
  • Kathlyn Terry, Executive Director, Appalachian Sustainable Development
  • Julie Mayfield, Executive Director, The Western North Carolina Alliance
  • Lee Walker Warren, Executive Director, Organic Growers School
  • Jeanie Martin, Board Member, Transition Asheville
  • Sarah Schober, Operations Manager, BioNetwork BioBusiness Center
  • Amber Baker, President, North Carolina Herb Association
  • Ceara Foley, Director, Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism
  • Mike Keenan, Director,
    Hokitika Wild Food Festival
    Katie Button, Chef/Owner, Curate
  • Andrea Reusing, Chef/Owner, Lantern
  • William Dissen, Chef/Owner, The Market Place
  • Nan Kramer, President, Slow Food Asheville
  • Graham Duvall, Owner, Mother Earth Produce
  • Michael Moore, Executive Director, Blind Pig Productions
  • Janell Kapoor, Director, Ashevillage Institute & Kleiwerks International
  • Stan Cross, Director, Environmental Leadership Center, Warren Wilson College
  • Fred Bahnson, Director, Wake Forest Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative
  • Joe Allawos, Owner, Mushroom Central
  • Darcel Eddins, Director, Bountiful Cities Project (our fiscal sponsor)
  • Bridget Kennedy, Program Director, The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project
  • Anne Lancaster, Purchasing Director, Mountain Food Products
  • Billy Jonas, internationally-known singer songwriter, who is helping to integrate creative arts into our foraging curriculum
  • six attorneys at Alston & Bird LLP, working pro bono to register No Taste Like Home as a 501c3 nonprofit and to assist in addressing and resolving any regulatory and liability concerns that may arise