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Discover dandelion pizza and other uses for native plants at this workshop
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At a workshop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the Ecology Center of Linwood Nature Preserve, Ila Hatter will teach people how to use native wild plants for medicine and food. She has a special recipe for poison ivy relief and will even offer elderflower fritters as a snack. Hatter will give away her secrets on dandelions, too. - photo by Layne Saliba

For Ila Hatter’s parents, finding plants in the forest, woods or their backyard was simply a matter of survival. They used the plants they found for cooking and medicinal purposes as they lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression.

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Ila Hatter
They wanted to make sure their daughter knew how to survive, too, so they passed on their knowledge to Hatter, now known as the “Lady of the Forest,” who has spent years teaching anyone who will listen.

Now, she’s bringing her expertise to Gainesville as part of a presentation and workshop through the Redbud Project Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society.

“They were afraid they might not be around to see me grown,” said Hatter of her parents, who were worried that one day, she may go through the same troubles they did. “So they taught me everything they knew about survival, which was just part of my lifestyle.”

The presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the Ecology Center of Linwood Nature Preserve and is free to attend. The workshop, where Hatter will take guests into the woods to forage for plants, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the same location and is $35. Space is limited.

Hatter will teach people how to use native wild plants for medicine and food. She has a special recipe for poison ivy relief and will even offer elderflower fritters as a snack.

Hatter will give away her secrets on dandelions, too.

Dandelion Pizza Sandwich

One-half English muffin or bagel

2-3 tablespoons shrimp cocktail sauce

3-4 tender dandelion leaves, washed

2-3 slices colby or cheddar cheese

Toast muffin or bagel. Spread sauce over the surface. Add fresh, chopped, young dandelion leaves and top with cheese. Microwave or broil until melted

“In European markets, you find (dandelions) as a regular vegetable in the culinary traditions and cookbooks,” said Hatter, who lives in Whittier, North Carolina. “But here, you find it on a commercial as an obnoxious weed. It’s probably more nutritious than any seed you can put in the ground when you remove the dandelion. It’s an extremely useful plant in a lot of ways.”

Margaret Rasmussen, executive director of the Redbud Project, is happy to offer this sort of presentation and workshop for the community. She’s followed Hatter and heard much about her, so she’s ready to listen and learn from Hatter’s 38 years of experience.

“When she starts speaking, it is just phenomenal,” Rasmussen said.

She said there’s a lot of interest in the subject in the North Georgia area. She’s always questioning how to use native plants for different purposes, so she figured bringing in an expert was the best idea.

“You can’t just go around and dig up the roots and all these kinds of things,” Rasmussen said. “So her depth of knowledge on native plants as Native Americans used them, she is probably the foremost authority in the United States.”

Hatter said the event is for hikers, campers or anyone who enjoys being outside — especially in the North Georgia area. She said “there’s more plant species here than anywhere in North America, including Canada,” so there’s plenty to teach and learn.

“There is such a proliferation of flora,” Hatter said. “A lot of folks that come to classes say they really enjoy their walks, but they’d like to know what they’re looking at. So this kind of adds to their walks to make it like they’re walking among friends.”

Rasmussen said the event is something that shouldn’t be missed.

“She’s nationally renowned and I just count my blessings that we were able to have her come,” Rasmussen said. “There have been several of these kinds of programs around, but I think that what we’re going to find out is (they’re) nothing like this. This is going to be the most instructive, educational, entertaining and relevant presentation on native plants.”

This story has been updated from its original version.

The Roots of Remedies

What: Presentation by naturalist and folklorist Ila Hatter

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11

Where: Linwood Nature Preserve Ecology Center, 160 Springview Drive, Gainesville

How much: Free

More info: www.facebook.com/events/603754000110041


Wildwood Ramble with the Lady of the Forest

What: Workshop to discover the native plants that the Native still celebrate

When: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 12th

Where: Linwood Nature Preserve Ecology Center, 160 Springview Drive, Gainesville

How much: $35

Register: Email redbudproject@gmail.com

More info: www.facebook.com/events/2364411283649981

Regional events