Harvesting wild food is the oldest and most basic subsistence activity of humankind, but today we live in a world where these skills are almost lost. Foraging is the missing link in modern civilized cultures--it is this direct physical connection, in the form of sustenance, that brings us to our deepest appreciation and understanding of the natural world.
This is the home site for Samuel Thayer, renowned author and forager and internationally recognized authority on edible wild plants. It is also the site for Forager's Harvest Press, publisher of Samuel's award-winning wild food books and our foraging store. Our mission is to promote responsible foraging, appreciation and conservation of Nature, and sustainable food production systems. If you care about these things, please explore this site's content and links.
Meet the Owners
Sam was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, where he first learned to gather wild food in vacant lots, backyards, city parks, and at the edge of town. Later, his family moved to rural southern Wisconsin, and then to Madison. His first presentation on edible wild plants was to his seventh grade science class, demonstrating the foods that he collected regularly on his three-mile walk to school. He began “survival camping” at fourteen and led his first wild food walks when he was 19. After graduating from high school, he moved near the south shore of Lake Superior and built a rustic log cabin on an abandoned farmstead, chasing his childhood dream of “living off the land” while working part-time at a variety of jobs.
Since 2000, when he won the Hazel Wood National Wild Foods Cooking Contest, Sam has been teaching regularly on edible wild plants, giving workshops across the United States. In 2002 he was inducted into the National Wild Foods Hall of Fame at North Bend State Park in West Virginia. His first book, The Forager’s Harvest, has won a Midwest Book Award, IPPY Book Award, and was a finalist for the USA Book News Best Books 2007 award. It has been a steady Amazon category best-seller and has sold more than 100,000 copies. His second book, Nature's Garden, has received similar acclaim and has sold over 75,000 copies. He currently lives in the woods of northwestern Wisconsin with Melissa, their daughters, Myrica, and Rebekah, and son, Joshua. Along with speaking and writing, he is also a maple syrup producer, wild rice harvester, and owns a small organic orchard.
In addition to wild food foraging, Sam is an all-around naturalist with particular interest in reptiles, amphibians, bird watching, botany, and mammals. His passion for wild food extends to studying the origin of cultivated plants and the socio-economic history of the human diet. Other favorite activities include running, bicycling, archery, fishing, cliff diving, swimming, photography, cooking, growing fruit trees, using scythes and other old hand tools, hunting, and anything with the family.
People often ask if Melissa was "into all this stuff before she knew Sam." The short answer is, yes.
Born and raised in rural, north central Wisconsin, Melissa began her foraging adventures gathering wild berries and daydreaming about what it would be like to be a pioneer girl. In her early teens, she had the annual tradition of picking enough wild strawberries to make a batch of wild strawberry jam. Every year, she enjoyed entering this into the local 4-H fairs often awing the judges with their perception of her diligence to undertake such a task. As it turns out, this impressed Sam as well. Read the chapter on wild strawberries in Sam's book Nature's Garden for more of that story!
After high school, she attended Edgewood College and graduated with her BS in Nursing in 2001 and her Masters in Nursing in 2006. While completing her Masters degree, she met Sam. She recalls her learning curve that year to be exponential. It was a magical year for her.
Her education in the subject of wild edibles and botany in general has been great. She does not claim to be an expert about wild edibles, but she is an expert on the things she gathers and uses. There is nothing she likes more than to collect wild food with the family.
In 2009, their first daughter, Myrica was born and Joshua was born in 2011. Disturbed by the symmetry, it was decided that Rebekah should be added to the mix in 2015. All three children were birthed at home with a midwife in attendance.
After purchasing an old restaurant in Bruce for the purpose of having a certified food processing facility for making hickory nut oil, jams/jellies and other orchard products, Melissa decided she wanted to open a small storefront in the building to sell some of their products. Without Melissa, there would be no store.
Melissa currently lives with Sam and their children in northwestern WI. She too harvests wild rice (and many other things), helps with the orchard, the commercial kitchen, and tries to keep things running smoothly in general.
Location & Hours
Come see us with a plant or mushroom question. We will do our best to help you identify it. Or just stop by and browse our shop.
709 W Arthur Ave (HWY 8)
Bruce, WI 54819
Right now we are open Tuesdays and most Thursdays 10-3 pm. Open during our scheduled classes and production times. Visit our Facebook page for announced times that we are open.
OR by appointment