SOUTHERN PINES — Wildlife biologist Terry Sharpe will teach area residents how to eat wild at a Save Our Sandhills seminar planned July 31 at the Southern Pines Civic Club.
Sharpe will explain how to reconnect with a more natural way of life during the talk, his second Save Our Sandhills appearance. Organizers said his presentation during the 2012 Palustris Festival was “extremely popular.”
A semi-retired wildlife biologist and forester who has spent 30 years working with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Sharpe grew up learning to hunt with his dad and exploring all aspects of nature, especially wild plants and wild animals.
Conservation is a central focus of his life, so much so that he and other professional friends do annual controlled burns on their properties to help promote the native grasses and wildflowers that help sustain wildlife populations, such as bobtail quail, rabbits, fox squirrels, and gray fox. The result is a property whose “yard” is a healthy Piedmont loblolly pine ecosystem that Save Our Sandhills says highlights the crucial link between native plant species and native wildlife.
Sharpe studies native edibles using numerous guides as well as researching plants used by Native Americans. He has been planting some native edibles, including blueberry bushes, to complement a small vegetable garden, but overall he considers all outdoors to be one big dinner plate.
Among favorites on his menu are items somewhat foreign to many: wild blueberries, daylily tubers and roots, lamb’s quarter, spring beauty root, local figs and groundnut root. In the fall, he scouts for black haws and paw paws.
Sharpe uses his garden vegetables along with native plants, also adding occasional local game to his diet. And he experiments with various methods of food preservation, as well — freezing, drying and pressure canning.
Sharpe believes there’s a disconnect between people and nature and that it continues to increase as society becomes more technologically oriented. Nevertheless, Save Our Sandhills said, citizens are becoming more concerned with meat additives (including hormones and steroids), pesticide use and genetic engineering, and the ultimate effect that all this will have on Americans’ health.
The seminar is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 31, at the Southern Pines Civic Club at the corner of Ashe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s free and open to the public.