Until his retirement in June of 2015, Russ Cohen's "day job" was serving as the Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration, where one of his areas of expertise was in riparian vegetation. Now Russ has more time to pursue his passionate avocation, which is connecting to nature via his taste buds.
In addition to leading over three dozen wild edible walks and talks each year at a wide variety of venues throughout the Northeast, Russ is now playing the role of Johnny Appleseed for native edible species.
He has set up a nursery (near his childhood home in Weston, MA) where he is growing over 1,000 plants, representing more than a third of the more than 170 species native to Northeast ecoregions that are edible by people. Many of these plants were propagated from seed Russ gathered himself.
Russ is forming partnerships with land trusts, municipalities, state and federal agencies, schools and colleges, tribal groups and others, to plant plants from his nursery on appropriate places on their properties.
Russ has initiated over two dozen such projects in the past three years. You can read more about this endeavor in the article Russ Cohen's Wild Edible Adventures, by Cathy Walthers, which ran in the Summer 2018 issue of Edible Boston Magazine, or this article, Meet the 'Johnny Appleseed' of Edible Native Plants, by Barbara A. Schmitz, which ran in the Spring 2019 issue of the Wild Ones Journal.