So, ....You Want to Wild Harvest...

When you step outside for a stroll or go for a woodland walk or forage, try out a ‘free range’ experience in 100% Human-Plant relationship.

Stop, pause, listen, feel (open all your senses). Do this with semi-closed eyes or with a blank stair. Be in a mindless sort of way. Put aside the cerebral and bring in a heartfelt primal. Drop your thoughts to the beat of your heart and the rhythm of your breath. Breathe in. Allow the air, wind, sun, sky, rain, scents and  sounds to permeate and inform you and guide you into ‘just being’. What gifts does Nature before you, have for you on this day? At the same moments, release and recognize at the same time that you’re here not for the taking, … not for ‘there’s something here for free’…. you’re here because you know this is an act of both sacrifice and generosity, all at the same time. You recognize, … you sense that some where in your bones, there’s a call from a deep rooted memory, of an intimate past of reciprocity with all that is.

That’s my experience any way. I hope it can be yours. Well, I know it can be.

In this place, that is, the Nature that surrounds us, that Nature has opened up a gentle wildness in me of being home. And I feel home, all the time in that place. There, I’m instinctually fed on the emotional, elemental and spiritual – the God-Effect is clear - I’m revitalized, calmed yet invigorated. Feet planted. Mind clear. If and when you go out to harvest, do so with a 100% human-plant relationship in mind. Always ask first and always give thanks. Do inquire prior to leaving home too. What I mean by that is, ask if this day is the right day to go and forage. If a sense in your body-knowing tells you differently, then maybe just go out to browse and enjoy a one on one with a particular plant or bird or tree.

But also, be open to the reverse! Where if in you’re busy full day you suddenly get a sense that you need to be outside, or, its time to harvest a food or herbal … be open to this call and act on it. You’re being called upon.

As importantly, if you’re new to this, please do take a knowledgeable person to go with you who understands about the asking, who understands about the identification, who understands about how to listen, until you acquire the skills of inquiry and reception on your own. For instance, if you do go it alone and come to a plant that is new to you or if you are unsure of who the plant is, take note and leave the plant there. Learn more about the plant and the plants surrounding details. Read and research from numerous sources and friends. After some time, maybe even a few years, you may be ready to harvest, or, … maybe not. Perhaps the plant is endangered. Perhaps the plant could become endangered. Maybe even the plant is a poisonous one. Or … goodness gracious me, maybe, you’re still getting a “no” from the plant that you’re still not supposed to harvest this plant at all – just because. And so, you leave it be. Ah yes, this is a100% human-plant relationship.

- wild foods are an enjoyable act of original giving and receiving behaviors
- eating wild foods is a timeless practice in reciprocity
- eating wild foods is currently being desired by many to know again (original
- wild food is a gift from the-Nature-that-surrounds-us, take it seriously,
  our life depends on it.
- and always ask, every day-what have I done today to return to Earth, what
  Earth has provided for us

Honor this land and all (plants, trees, shrubs, fungi, ferns, lichen, moss, people).
Stay on the trail, pick up any garbage you may see, listen to Nature sounds, to your sounds that bounce off your breath, your senses, how your skin feels among  the outdoors. Help each other on this walk. Look out for each other. Look out for other species. Refrain from just mindlessly picking a leaf just to have a closer look. Leave the leaf on the plants body. Do hold a branch so that it does not bounce back into someone’s face and do hold on to that branch so as to not break or injure. I’ve seen young people kick trees … have honor and respect for both tree and our children. Stop, sit and listen with the child to connect to tree medicine wisdom. Getting still, the child will hear. And, do step gently and consciously as there are numerous beings below our feet.

Whether today is your first time in a season enjoying a wild foragable or not, please refrain from eating more than one or two edibles. This is for the possibility of having an allergic reaction to the plant at hand. This way, you’ll be able to determine who contained the offending allergen. Also, many wild edibles have more nutrients than store bought fresh veggies and especially so during early spring. These plants are much more nutritionally dense and potent than the rest of the year. So less is more, almost always, in the realm of wild foods.

How much does one eat? Depends. Ask yourself these questions.
Is the plant an endangered plant? - Yes? Avoid.
Does the plant grow in abundance? - No? Eat little or none.
Can the plant become endangered? - Yes? Avoid.
Are there a lot of people attracted to harvesting this plant? - You can determine by what others are saying and what you’re reading in the media. - Yes? Eat little.
Is the plant being over harvested? - Yes? Avoid.
Are there only a few plants in the area you’re harvesting from? - Yes? Avoid.
Are they an ephemeral [delicate plants that grow for a very short time in one  season]? - Yes? Sample one and leave the rest there.
Do they agree with your stomach? Yes? Eat a small amount anyway.
Do they live close to or far from your home? This almost always means we should consider the natural elements rule: consume more of the plant if close by your home; less of the plant if far from your home.

What season do they offer their best nutrition?
What parts are edible? If only the roots, there’s a greater chance of humans impacting this plant from becoming endangered.

Once answering the above questions, I have always applied these two questions – again … just in case. (It’s a nursing thing. We ask safety questions again and again before giving a medication. So I apply similar rules to my practice before foraging.)

1) is the plant endangered? – check UpS plants list -
2) does the plant before you grow in abundance / invasive?

When it comes to our delicate or small plants such as Spring Beauty or Wild (Leeks) Ramps, that is, those who are here for just a short time such as ephemerals; or those that grow slowly such as Ginseng or Lichen’s (please note: most Lichen’s are NOT edible, plus they need so much time to grow; they grow only a few centimeters a year. Thus, please don’t use them for decorations). Or use plants that are known to be endangered such as Red Trillium or Goldenseal. These plant populations are so easily devastated. Thus please …
Be impeccable.
Choose wisely.
Ask gently.
Listen truly.
Receive clearly.
Do what is asked of you. You can’t tell? Wait then, and inquire later until you can. Practice makes perfect.

So … just how much does one eat of wild edible plants?
1) choose non endangered, non ephemerals and of course, non poisonous.
2) choose only those who grow abundantly.

Then the only other points to ask are - how does my belly feel after eating this leaf, stem, berry, root, bark or seed? Do I feel good afterwards? And is it okay to have if I’m on medicine’s? And that's another story.

Love and Blessings …