Why use wild plants at all?

Gathering wild caraway rootsWhether we reside in a rural community or urban center, edible, medicinal and otherwise useful plants abound.

Most of the plants we consider noxious or nuisance weeds are not only edible, but tasty and nutritious, offering stiff competition to our domestic garden vegetables.  Many are also capable of treating or curing common ills that plague our society.  Stinging nettle, for example, is super rich in calcium, while burdock is well known as a “blood purifier” and is used in herbal cancer remedies.

I am a big proponent of the health benefits that come from eating or using wild plants.  However, I am equally convinced that there are many additional health benefits that come from simply getting out there and gathering plants.

There is something liberating about harvesting wild plants and incorporating them into meals, medicines, baskets, cordage or any myriad of things.  Yes, it is free, but above all, it is freeing.  When I buy anything from a store, I feel little or no connection to it or its origins, and the memory of getting it is often one of haste and overwhelm from marketing pressures and the rush of people around me.   When I gather wild plants, I feel connected to nature.  I feel alive, relaxed and thankful for what I’m harvesting.  I also have a sense of being at least somewhat self-sufficient.  When I prepare food, weave a basket or make a salve from these plants, I c
ontinue to feel a connection to nature.  And every time I eat this food, or use this basket or salve, I relive the gathering experience.  I remember, clearly, the sweet yet medicinal smell of the balsam poplars that thickened the spring air, the cheerful sound of the song sparrow singing its heart out in the tree next to me, the reflection of sun and clouds in a tiny pool of crystal clear water, the shocking coolness of a frog on my foot, the porcupine waddling noisily by, and the refreshing flavour of wild mint joyfully plucked from an ephemeral wetland.

It takes time to secure food, medicines and all of the other things we need to live – whether it’s time spent at our jobs earning money for trade, or time spent gathering and preparing things, ourselves.  I hope that, through my website, you will be enticed to spend more time in fields and forests experiencing the joys and benefits of harvesting and using wild plants, yourself.

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