Let's Go Herb Walking

It's time to get outdoors and harvest the free bounty. Yes FREE! Much of nature is edible, you just need to learn to identify the ones which aren't.
With spring stalking in the darkness of a reluctant winter, I am eager to flee this seasonal detention. My feet ache to walk barefoot among the red clover that I pick and dry for teas and salves.Now is the time to prepare for a new season of herbwalking. Anyone can enjoy this hobby and way of life for many. Wildcratfing is not limited; beginners can start by exploring their own backyards or acreage where many common wild edibles can be found. Everyone has dandelions somewhere in their yard, often mistaken for weeds, but indeed, these mighty powerful herbs are highly valuable to the wildcrafter. A good identification guide is a must; proper recognition is the key to a healthy foray. One of my favorite field guides is “ Peterson’s Field Guide Eastern/ Central Medicinal Plants”. This handy book supply’s a lot of color photos and covers many states. A comfortable backpack provides storage for books, notes, a bottle of drinking water, a lunch, scissors to gather wild greens, plastic bags for seeds. Sometimes, a sturdy walking stick aids the eager all day hikers. My first outing on our 5 acres was amazing. I found poke, burdock, sumac, thistle, mullein, red clover, horehound, violets, plantain and dandelion, of course! An herb lovers playground.If your backyard has been converted and all the wild weeds replaced, find a safe, public park, forest or nearby woods. Be sure to get permission before exploring someone else’s property. Respect for the land and the owner is always appreciated. I am fortunate to live by the VanDerhoef Memorial Forest, a 140 acre state park that was donated to the Missouri Conservation Department to preserve this natural area. Here, I learned to recognize some of the native weeds of my area: chickweed, cleavers, wild ginger, plantain, sassafras, spice bush, shepherds purse and wood sorrel. We are allowed to gather here, but not to dig. So, always check with the proper channels before harvesting in a public domain. Wildcrafting for culinary or personal reasons should always be a safe, enjoyable experience. Free food taken from the wild needs to be thoroughly washed and inspected, especially if taken from roadsides, where chemicals have probably been used, I would not recommend this practice.Greed is not apart of wildcrafting, so only take what you can use and save plenty for your fellow forager and enough for the plant to regain it’s strength. Herbwalking unites us with the glory and wonders of nature, connects us to the past and allows us to sample some of God’s green goodies. Walk softly, hear the birds sing and take your time to fully feel the powers of the green!


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