The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News


Foraging for Food in Hahamongna


In search of the wild bunch: edible plants including chickweed, miner's lettuce, and mustard greens




Karin Bugge


Altadena Patch


I don’t know which is more surprising – that I can make a salad out of the green weedy stuff I’ve always considered a garden nuisance, or that someone who teaches survival skills and runs the "School of Self-Reliance" is a really funny, down-to-earth guy. Christopher Nyerges is neither preachy nor paranoid, and if he has any dire, doomsday predictions, he’s keeping them to himself.

“I do this because it’s peaceful,” Nyerges says of wild food foraging. “It requires little or no money, and when taking long back-packing trips I don’t have to carry a bunch of junk with me.”

On his “Wild Food Outing,” a three-hour foraging walk around Hahamongna, we, his students, learned to identify the edible. Even more importantly, perhaps, we learned to identify the lethal. Hemlock springs to mind.

Amazingly, the entire hemlock plant looks like a wild carrot or parsnip and doesn’t carry any sensory warning such as a malevolent odor. Worst of all, it grows, almost hides, amongst the wild salad ingredients such as chickweed and thistle.

Ok, but on to the good guys. The wild food available in Hahamongna is not entirely indigenous, but certainly seasonal. As we’re now in the midst of a rain-deprived winter, chickweed provided the basis for our salad, livened up with mustard greens, mallow, a little buckwheat, wild lettuce, curly dock, and the spicy-hot wild radish.

So how did it taste? Good. Really good. Maybe because we found all the ingredients ourselves, and they were free for the picking. Or maybe because by the time we sat down to eat, we were really hungry. And to be perfectly honest, a little Paul Newman’s Salad Dressing didn’t hurt.

To view the weekly events Christopher Nyerges has on offer, ranging from the wild-food walks to “Survival Skills Intensive,” visit