Elkhart River offers wealth of natural, urban delights

You tend to see the world in a different way from the water.

That was certainly the experience of Joel Pontius and his students in Goshen College’s Sustainability Leadership Semester. Every September, Pontius takes his students on an eight-day journey on the Elkhart River from where it originates near Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center to Lake Michigan. Along the way, the students meet local residents and leaders, learning among other things about and enjoying wild local food.

Here’s a bit of what Pontius wrote of his most recent trip: “Our paddles churn the surface of the Elkhart River as our canoes glide around a sweeping bend. The world is glowing green beneath the shade of the broad-leafed sycamore canopy on this crisp afternoon. Cardinal flowers bow to the river, red from the dark, exposed soil. A great blue heron spooks downstream as a train rumbles by on the riverside rail. Soon we see fluorescent orange and yellow in the crook of a two-trunked wild cherry tree. As we float closer, we confirm that what we’re seeing is an edible mushroom called chicken of the woods …”

Want to know more about “chicken of the woods” and the rest of this expedition? Read the full account of the students’ journey in Joel’s words on Edible Michiana’s website.


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