Who is Oak InLove?
That's me. Mason Everyone Oak InLove.
Call me Oak.
Here's some of my story...
I graduated in 2012 with a B.S. Agronomy from West Virginia University. While attending school, I worked on the University Organic Farm where I began questioning the modern approach to food production. Through the guidance of a few professors there, I began independently researching the plants I was learning about, specifically the weeds. This was my rabbit hole into the world of herbalism & wild harvesting my own food & medicine. I led my first plant walk there in 2012. Over the next few years, I helped establish several gardens for the local community. In 2015, I moved to Asheville, NC & within 6 months I was enrolled in the first ever Wild Foods Teacher Training program with local foraging company, No Taste Like Home. As one of 4 graduates, this is where I truly honed my skills as a naturalist & wilderness educator, with over 300 hours of curriculum including hands-on experience identifying, harvesting, preparing, & teaching wild foods. Over the last decade, with my own independent research, formal training, guiding & teaching, attending workshops & continued education, I can safely, & proudly say that I have over 1000 hours of experience in my field.
- why is this your passionate pursuit?
Some of my earliest, most vivid memories are walking through my grandfather's garden, harvesting onions & tomatoes with his guidance. From early childhood, I have always felt most connected with myself & the world around me in the quiet moments alone, under, or, in a tree... I remember climbing up a huge tree in my childhood backyard & talking with her, thanking her for the strong branches, reveling in her majestic stature, & pondering life's mysteries. From a quiet place way up high, I realized how small I am, & overcome with feeling that there was more to life than what I had previously believed, it was there that I found a deeper meaning in my life. As a young adult, that pattern would continue, with some of my most deeply connected & purposeful moments being the times when i would lay under the trees, looking up, noticing their symmetrical structure, the patterns that seemed so prevalent in nature, the perfect example of balance, strength & virtue.
Many years later, at WVU, my agronomy major became valuable in giving me the opportunity to work at the university organic farm, where I began questioning agricultural practices that included heavy tilling, weeding & the use of pesticides, & synthetic fertilizers. It turns out that most of the weeds in agriculture are actually the plants with the highest nutritional & environmental value. Under the guidance of a witty, experienced, lifelong agrarian, Professor Bryan, I was set on my path towards my true passion of wild harvesting my own food & medicine. I led my first plant walk with a group of willing friends in 2012. Needless to say it was a little rough, but I never gave up, & looking back it was a huge success. The fact that anyone was willing to trust me, & make time to experience weeds through my eyes & words was enough to convince me that I needed to refine this skill.
Over the next few years I continued to learn more plants & mushrooms, harvesting & preservation methods, & spent more & more time outside in the fields & forests developing my skills & knowledge of living in harmony with the planet & her natural systems. Eventually, I made it to Asheville, NC & within months of living there, with encouragement of a friend that truly believed in me, I registered for the first ever “Wild Foods Teacher Training Program” with local company No Taste Like Home, founded by local mushroom man, Alan Muskat. I gleaned all I could from the program, its various guest instructors, & hands-on experience teaching as an assistant guide for dozens of plant walks that summer.
Since 2017, I have been leading my own plant walks on a consistent basis, sometimes getting paid, but mostly hosting free walks to the community & any who would come, simultaneously refining my skill & developing my own take on what a plant walk is & can be. Sometimes a teacher, but always a student, I continue my journey as a naturalist & guide in the Asheville area, at your service & more importantly, in service of something greater…
In service of the web of life - to which we all belong, indivisibly interconnected & interdependent upon each other, all equally important, all one together, all made of the same stuff, all pieces of the puzzle, the plants & creatures of our amazing planet, Earth.
So, won’t you come on a walk with me?