Meet Instructor Tanna Worrell

As a new mother, Tanna had two focuses, the first being to put down roots and raise her family in one location, in contrast to her upbringing as an ‘Airforce brat’ (ten schools, four high schools!). Secondly, she wanted to serve her young family nutritious and fresh food. That interest led her to foods found in the wild, which in turn developed into her passion for foraging. 

What or who was the catalyst that prompted you to begin sharing your foraging knowledge?I’ve always been involved with education, having started working in community education in my teens. While working at a chiropractic office I met a doctor who was also an herbalist and forager, Dr. Kelly Hagenbuch. Kelly sparked my interest with her enthusiasm and was generous in sharing her knowledge. We began to teach together and when Kelly moved out of state, I kept teaching.

How did you learn about folk schools? 
I didn’t know about them until recently, but I’m a life-long learner who often takes classes. I’ve taught in various places in Polk County including the park system and further afield such as in the Pepin area. Last fall I taught at another new folk school, the St. Croix Valley Folk School, in St. Croix Falls

We’re excited to work with you at Marine Mills Folk School!
Your mission resonated with me, especially the emphasis on the importance of our natural environment. I want to help people become more respectful in how we treat our natural world. All of us, including foragers, need to ensure we’re aware of life cycles so that when we harvest plants or other items we ensure there are enough left to replenish themselves. I also believe walking in the woods or prairies nourishes us at many levels, for food but also mentally and spiritually. We need to take care of our natural environment, so future generations can fully receive that nourishment.

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What brings you joy?
I really enjoy singing, I’m in a choir and I’m also likely to spontaneously break into song during my day. I also enjoy cooking – the kitchen is a place where I am creative, thinking of new dishes to incorporate foraged foods, to entice my grandchildren and others to try new foods. I’m also especially joyful because our youngest daughter is just home from her National Guard deployment! 

What was the last gift you gave?
I gave a friend who just opened a flower shop, a box of ‘flowering teas.’ These are bundles of leaves that when placed in water and steeped, open into a ‘blossom’. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Flowering Tea 

What do you most value in a friend? That they give me their full attention, that they make the time to be with me.  

Finally, got any good books to recommend? To learn more about foraging, Sam Thayer is a Wisconsin native, his photos and narrative are especially helpful. Teresa Marrone is another author with several books about foraging in the Midwest. For relaxing and escaping, I’m crazy about Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series – I’m anxiously awaiting her next book Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone.