5 Reasons I Enjoy Wild Harvesting
Since the moment I realized I could eat from the forest, beyond picking wild berries in my childhood, I have become completely fascinated and consumed by the offerings available. I have immersed myself in foundational knowledge as much as I can by reading about wild edibles, exploring in the wild, and learning about the wild at local workshops. I’ve built the confidence to go out there on my own and continue learning as I encounter plants along my path. A love for wild harvesting has grown in my heart and I would like to share some reasons why.
Foraging is a mindful activity. Spending time outside, walking slowly, and focusing my attention to my surroundings for plants of interest requires a conscious engagement between the environment and my Self. When I am out in the wild, I feel energetically grounded throughout my entire being - mind, body and soul - as cliché as it sounds, it is the truth. From the awareness of my steps on natural and uneven terrain, to hearing the critters and birds roam their territory, to observing the diverse flora while the sun warms my skin or the breeze cools my shell. My breathing, my movements and my eyesight become conscious acts with every breath, step and observation.
I am transported to a primitive version of myself under the direction of my primary senses. All constructs of a modern society become irrelevant as I am immersed in the purity of untouched land. I am trusting Mother Nature to guide me towards her bounty and I return my appreciation as I collect her offerings by focusing my attention to the plant I am receiving from. I experience stillness and vastness while my being is under the spell of the present moment.
I allow my intuition be my guide. My curiosity about the environment is my intuitive guide for learning about my surroundings. When I notice a purple flower growing in the forest that was not present the week prior, I will pause for a moment and collect mental notes about the plant’s physical characteristics, environmental conditions and record a sample of the plant with a photograph or physical sample (if the plant is in abundance). I will research the plant immediately if I am carrying a plant identification book or search for the plant on the internet. I sometimes successfully find the plant I am looking for, other times I find no answer, or learn about it through word of mouth at a later time. I do not hold myself to expectations of being an expert and instead allow my learning to flow naturally with the knowledge that becomes available to my interests.
I remember a time when I did not know the name of any plant and would mindlessly roam the earth on unfamiliar territory. I categorized trees, shrubs, herbs and other living plant material into one large category - greenery. Over time, and with intuitive interest, I am slowly building a database of plant knowledge. I constantly surprise myself with how much I have effortlessly learned. I am now in company of acquaintances instead of strangers, growing a connection to the spirit of Mother Nature.
Spending time in the wild is restorative and necessary. There’s an indescribable magic I experience the more time I intentionally spend engaged in the wild - my body is grounded, my mind is present and my soul is at peace. I make a commitment to this practice every day, even if it is for a short walk or a sneaky caress to a tree on a sidewalk. I can always find a piece of nature whether I am in the city or in the country.
I am often disappointed that so many of us have so little knowledge over the basic foundations that support us. Our entire survival on this planet, from our consumer goods, global economy, and living conditions are founded in the natural resources of this planet. Our exponential dependence on nature exceeds what it can sustain. Learning about basic plant knowledge that is often readily available in our environment allows for a connection with Mother Nature to flow. A mutually beneficial relationship founded in reciprocity is a small yet powerful step towards a more mindful and earth-friendly planet.
I am harmonized with the seasons. Mother Nature has a gift to offer every season, month, week, and day. When we accept her generosity mindfully, we are actively engaged in her world. Becoming in tune with the availability of plants throughout growing seasons allows me to sync with natural processes and rhythms. From the first bud in the spring to the last leaf in the fall, the anticipation and patience required in foraging make the experience reflective and transformative. Cycles of birth, growth, and decay become guides to my own life as I harvest throughout the year.
Emerging from the solitude of winter, are tubers and roots available for harvest before plants send their energy towards the leaf and reproductive material. The bouquet of optimism offers the same kind of resurgence within ourselves. As plant energy travels upward, young and tender leaves are ready to harvest in late spring to early summer while colourful flowers are collected throughout summer months. With the peak of heat and sunshine, energy is manifested in a full expression of abundance. As blooms transform into fruits, seeds and nut in late summer to fall, the introspective change of season prepares us once again for winter. Each season is a guide to our needs for that period of time.
Wild edibles are pure and loaded with nutrients. Plants in the wild grow voluntarily in their chosen environment, often without any human input or influence (if distanced from human disturbance). The soil is rich, the air is clean and the ecological context provides conditions for the plant to grow and thrive in, naturally. Unlike conventional produce, wild plants surpass organic labels and are free of pesticides, herbicides and other environmental pollutants.
Wild foods often outperform nutritional properties of domestic plants that are considered dominant in certain minerals, vitamins and health-promoting chemicals. Stinging nettle has twenty five times more calcium than beet greens, lamb’s quarters has two times more potassium than spinach and wild blueberries has double the amount of antioxidants than farmed blueberries. The list goes on and on. Wild plants contain necessary nutrients to nourish the human body while being powerful tools for healing when used appropriately.
Although I narrowed my reasons down to five, I could have expanded the list of reasons further. To spend time outside with my full attention given to the plants surrounding me, to trust that my environment in its virgin form is there to sustain me, to building a relationship with my environment, to sync my life with natural cycles, and to be fuelled with wild nourishment are truly at the roots of all other reasons I may have.
It is my wish that all fellow humans nurture their connection with Mother Nature so that we can all respect and work with her in an honest and gentle way.
Why do you enjoy wild harvesting? What have you picked recently? I’d love to learn more about you in the comments below.
With love and light,