Author Archives: tedmanzer

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com). I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.

Wild fennel is an invasive weed, but I still like it.


Actually, it’s not truly wild. It’s escaped and naturalized, and it has been for a long time. Wild fennel is like fennel found in nurseries and stores, and you can find it anywhere. I ran into a bunch of it … Continue reading

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Lily of the valley is a blast from my past


When I was young, my grandfather had a huge patch of these tiny fragrant white flowers all around his house. I used to pick them and place them in jars to bring some aroma inside. Nobody ever cautioned me about … Continue reading

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Mockingbirds are interesting creatures few people notice


Mockingbirds are cool. We have a few at school, and one likes to play games with me. He’ll fly beside me and stop a short distance in front of me while I talk to him. When I get within four … Continue reading

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Prime farmland is a precious irreplaceable resource


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against renewable energy, but it pains me to see prime farmland being taken out of production permanently. Food shortage could be a real problem if this trend continues. With rising worldwide population, we need … Continue reading

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Ground cherries are underappreciated wild fruits


The internet is a great place to gain knowledge. It’s also a bastion for false or misleading information. Sometimes I read something and laugh. Then I wonder how many other people read that same thing and were scared by it. … Continue reading

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Mexican petunia is almost as beautiful as it is invasive


I have a thick stand of Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana or Ruellia simplex) next to a couple of the greenhouses at school. The plants have been established for close to 20 years. This past week we replaced the plastic covering … Continue reading

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Pineapples can be nutritious, delicious, medicinal, and ornamental


I remember the first time I ate fresh pineapple. Before that, I’d only eaten canned. It was wonderful and I had a whole new appreciation for it. I gained a similar experience after eating fresh grilled tuna for the first … Continue reading

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