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Celebrate Saturday’s National Picnic Day with food from farms, food from forests

Jane Knowlton
U.S. Forest Service

Your national forests and grasslands offer many opportunities for fun in the sun on Saturday’s National Picnic Day. Here comes the weekend, just in time for family and friends to enjoy the fruits of farm and forest during Saturday’s National Picnic Day.

Join the fun and find that special place on your favorite national forest or national grassland or urban green space to spread the cloth and enjoy a relaxing spot to unwind. Before you go, visit us and check out our videos on our Forest Service YouTube site for places to explore.

And you might want to try a meal with produce from local farms. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food is a USDA-wide effort to strengthen local and regional food systems.

The forest is also a place to find healthy foods such as wild berries, wild rice, ramps, fiddlehead ferns, spices, piñon nuts and different types of mushrooms. Forest Service lands provide habitat for deer, rabbit and squirrels. Rivers, streams, and lakes offer wild and native fish such as salmon, trout and bass. Grazing permits allow space for cows and sheep to forage. Harvest of wild game is an important food source for many people – rural and urban alike -- and includes different species of deer, elk, black bear, wild turkeys, rabbits, and many types of game birds and waterfowl.

Keep in mind that harvesting some of these products may require licenses or permits from state fish and game or Forest Service special use permits so check with your local forest office in advance. Also, check out local guidebooks for information on what’s safe to harvest. For example, some mushrooms should remain on the forest floor for both forest health as well as yours.

Because your picnic basket can be full both travelling to and going from the forest, take a moment to thank a pollinator for the bounty of food choices.

Before or after your picnic meal, fun and games are part of what make a picnic fun and the opportunities for recreation adventures on forests abound. Visit Naturewatch to learn and discover where to go. You can hike, bike, ride horses and drive off-highway vehicles or you can camp, hunt, fish, and navigate waterways. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife while you witness spectacular scenery, explore historic and cultural sites, or journey on a scenic byway.

After your picnic, consider choosing a trail to hike on your local national forest or grassland. As part of your picnic protocol, remember to be a conservation steward and read our know before you go tips to be prepared, always keeping in mind Woodsy Owl’s advice to give a hoot don’t pollute. If you pack it in, remember to pack it out and follow the leave no trace principles.

It’s all yours to go and play and don’t forget to mark your calendars again because July is National Picnic Month. As your picnic joys become favorite memories be sure to tag us on Forest Service Twitter, Facebook and Instagram sites.