37546589222 5ebba78cd5 b
ANDY FIRK
Website
WILD EDIBLES / GINGERS / BAMBOO
Arcadia

"Andy’s pleasure is working with plants. His deepest field of study has been with the wild edible and medicinal plants that grace Florida’s wild places. He is author of “Florida Foraging: Volume One: 150 Common Wild Edible Plants of Florida” to be printed in the Spring of 2018.
Human systems such as gift economies, barter networks, frugal living, primitive skills, guerrilla fruit tree planting, and peaceful anarchy “excite the bejesus” out of him.  Andy has been a wildcrafter since the age of 15. He has gathered wild herbs for herbalists across the country, including the Herb-Pharm.
PHOTOS: Avid hiking and travels across Florida have resulted in the collection of 30,000 wild plant, gardening, and wildlife photos. Almost 8,000 are viewable on his flickr site: CLICK HERE FOR FLICKR GALLERIES
Since 1993 he has stewarded the two acre food forest and homestead Bamboo Grove in Arcadia. The property is home to a great collection of perennial vegetables and herbs that includes: over 200 heirloom fruits, 35 clumping bamboo species, medicinal plants, natives,  a permaculture plants nursery and more.. All are welcome to contact him for a tour and free plants to sample. He has given away over 10,000 potted plants.  “I specialize in true yams and culinary gingers. I travel anywhere in the state to obtain new and rare useful plants. I have visited over 1,000 parks, homesteads and farms in Florida in search of unusual plants. ” Andy also stewards the Ithaca Forest Farm of upstate New York which is currently for sale to the right buyer.
Bamboo Grove is host to three or four large garden parties each year in varied themes like ‘Bamboos’,  and ‘Hardy Fruits’,  and always include plant swaps. In 1993, Andy began hosting wild edible plant walks across Florida.  Over 30,000 people have attended these walks, and he leads as many as ten each month throughout the state of Florida. He is the co-founder of YamFest! – the perennial vegetables celebration that was first hosted at HEART in Lake Wales.
FLORIDA SPECIFIC SLIDESHOWS: He presents slideshows for the Florida Herbal Conference, the Sustainable Living Conference, the Florida Permaculture Convergence, and other events. These slideshows explore many topics, such as:
- Clumping Bamboos
- Culinary Gingers
- 60 Edible Curcuma Species
- Perennial Veggies
- Coastal Wild Edible Plants
- Wild Edible Plants of Florida
- Wild Medicinal Plants of Florida
- Rare Wild Medicinal Plants of Florida
- The Magnificent Life of the Gulf 
- Butterflies and Their Host Plants
- Southeast Asian Plants
- Understanding a Florida Beach
- Edible Seaweeds of Florida
- Food Plants of Florida's Prehistoric Peoples
- Food Forest of Florida
- Edible Bamboo Shoots
- Surf Fishing
- Rare Fruit Hunting in Florida
AND COMING SOON
- Hollies of Florida - Their edible and Medicinal Uses 
- Working with Pine Resin 
- Edible Bean Trees for Florida 
He is an avid shell fossil hunter. He enjoys hosting community dinners, and leading fruit safaris.
Sound like a rather busy schedule?  Andy says, “Well in fact, I enjoy a relaxed life with plenty of time for graceful living!”
FORAGEFEST VIDEO ON VIMEO: CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
ANDY'S NOTE: I would like to add that...
- In 1978, at the age of 14, I stopped attending school to pursue nature study first hand and tend a great love of plants, especially the wild ones. I spent thousands of hours studying wild plants and habitats across Connecticut, New York, and the entire continent.
- In 1978 I started working with injured animals and their rehabilitation at the West Rock Nature Center near New Haven, Connecticut.
- In 1985 I purchased 21 acres at the age of 21 in upstate New York. This was Sunlife Farm, a commune where we camped, skinny-dipped, lived in tents, gardened, ate well, and hosted a large annual back-to-the-land gathering with attendees eventually coming from six states. I planted countless native plants on the land. In 2003, I sold the land to my dear friend Bill, who has expanded the property to now encompass 45 acres, and he has renamed the project Wild Earth Farm.
- From 1988 through 1993 I ran an organic landscaping business in Connecticut.
- From 1994 through 2003 I founded and ran a very successful wildcrafting business based in Miami. I sold thousands of bamboo crafts and dried florals that I gathered from across south Florida to floral and interior designers. Customers included Architectural Digest, the Biltmore Hotel, the Breakers, Gianni Versace, Madonna, to name a few. This work didn't tickle my fancy, so I dropped it to work with people of a more relaxed nature... gardeners and such.
- I purchased one acre in Homestead, Florida, Bamboo Grove No. 1, where we hosted many garden events and community potlucks, all at no charge. While in Miami, I spent a lot of time with area rare fruit growers, such as Bill Whitman. I sold the property to move to Arcadia, Florida, to build Bamboo Grove No. 2 in 2003, where I live currently.
- From 2003 through 2017 over 13,000 different people have visited Bamboo Grove to join in the fun at our garden gatherings and workshops.
- In 2009 I started a Facebook account as well as a community page to bring plant lovers together. It is currently over 5,000 people strong.
- In 2013 I spent most of the year studying bamboos.
- In 2014 I spent most of the year studying perennial vegetables, especially true yams.
- In 2015 I founded ForageFest, a gathering dedicated to Florida’s wild edible plants. I also began leading tours of the Asian Produce Market near St. Pete, Florida. 
- In 2016 I dedicated a large part of the year to studying edible gingers species. 
- In 2017 we began a website, floridaforaging.com, to organize our plants database, events calendar, Florida maps, expert profiles, and more. 
- In 2018, my book Florida Foraging: Volume One – 150 common Wild Edible Plants, is expected to be published
… and along the way I have spent much time with eco-activism and social justice causes, including strip mining, animal rights, and farmworker issues.
... I look forward to many new sights to behold in future travels as a plant hunter, appreciating countless blessings along the way.  Deep thanks to so many people for the kind support over many years.
... I would be remiss if I didn't thank some of my long-time old friends, and a few girlfriends from the past, Denise Kusmit, Nicole Emert, Bill McLaughlin, Bob Levi, Marta Alex, Pat Dudley, and my family, for unending support over decades.
FUTURE GOALS: I hope to become adept at giving workshops in hurricane-proof solar distillation and dehydration construction workshops and to one day establish a rare native botanical garden that showcases endangered and threatened plant foods and medicines native to Florida. I have my eye on the oak forests of the great springs region west of Gainesville.