Coastal Nomad - Shawn Jay Dawson

Shawn Dawson is true coastal nomad with a passion for foraging and farming. We had the chance to chat with him about some of Newfoundland's hidden gems, his favorite wild edibles, essential tips for foraging and farming enthusiasts, the valuable lessons he's learned from the island, and his most treasured memories of exploring its rugged coastline! Grab your bucket come on an adventure into Shawn's world as we journey through Newfoundland together!

What’s an underrated place in Newfoundland that you think more people should know about? 

An underrated place in Newfoundland that more people should know about is the Burin Peninsula. I feel most people know about or go to Bonavista in the summer but Burin is also stunning. I love driving through the birch trees and hiking in Piper's Hole in Swift Current. Then driving through the hills where I saw heard's of caribou the last couple of times I went. The whole "boot" is full of lots of beautiful communities and so many little islands. And of course one of my favorite restaurants on the island, Smugglers Cove Roadhouse!


What’s your favourite food to forage?

My favourite food to forage is a toss-up between the spring shoots after a long winter (dandelion greens, nettles, knotweed.. etc.) and wild mushrooms! (Matsutakes and Porcinis being my favorite). 


What tips do you have for people who are interested in foraging and farming?

Tips I have for people interested in foraging and farming is to get out and do it!! We don't need acres of land to grow our own food and we're so lucky to live on an island that still has so much undeveloped land where wild food is available and abundant. It's often said that Newfoundland is too hard to grow anything but root vegetables but this isn't true. When you start foraging start slow and only harvest what you absolutely know. Take lots of pictures, do lots of reading and fact-checking, try going foraging with a knowledgeable gatherer, or check out one of our Foraging tours at Murray's Garden Centre starting in early June. Basically get outside and learn what food grows around you and have fun. When in doubt do not put it in your mouth! Foraging is healthy, active, saves you money (especially now with the cost of foods) and connects you with nature and where you live, it's grounding, and great for your mental health


What lesson has Newfoundland taught you?

The lesson that Newfoundland taught me is that I'm very fortunate to grow up on such a safe, resource-rich, and beautiful island. And that food is literally all around us. This taught me to be respectful, less wasteful, and to be resourceful.

What's your favourite memory of exploring Newfoundland?

My favorite memory of exploring Newfoundland... Wow, that's a hard one. My mind fills with so many memories when thinking about this question. That's too hard to narrow down. I guess I would have to say going rabbit hunting with my uncles, fishing and moose hunting with my Dad, and collecting spring Dandelion greens and berry picking with my Nan, and winter camping on Chaga hunts with my buddy Neill.

Don't forget to give him a follow on Instagram @flossmandandycabbage to keep up with all of his foraging adventures! You can also find him at the St. John’s Farmers Market, sharing a space with Krystina of NL Floral Design. If you're interested in foraging yourself, check out Murray’s Garden Centre for their awesome foraging tours and tastings or buy his book The Forager's Dinner. Keep an eye out for his new book all about edible mushrooms in Newfoundland coming this fall. Plus, you can support Shawn by visiting some of our amazing local restaurants during the season!