Love Where You Live Through Foraging

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 Blackberry Elderflower

Beauty is all around us. We pass by things every day; sometimes we notice their beauty and sometimes we don’t.

“Stop and smell” the flowers is a great concept, but do we do it? Most of the time, no. That goes for me, too — though I’m beginning to do it more.

In my little piece of the world, trees line the highway. Three years ago I learned those trees are Autumn Olives, planted along the sides of our highways to help with erosion. This was done before it was known they are invasive in our region. How invasive? Once planted, they root in a serious way, and can start to crowd out local, indigenous plants.

Yet even though they’re invasive, they have amazing berries — slightly sweet, and very tart, and with 18 times more licopene than a tomato. They are super prolific, and very easy to harvest.

These Autumn Olive started my love for foraging. Now when I drive down the highway, I don’t just see trees, I see the flick of the gray green leaves and the silverish underside, catching the sunlight, as the breeze dances on by, and smile as I think about the fruit leather I’ll be making in the fall.

Foraging is a great way to get free food, and it’s a great way to become more intimately connected with where you live.

When walking my woods and meadow in search of food, I have found: a beautiful patch of fiddleheads, delicious high bush and low bush blueberries, a wild cranberry bog, spearmint berries and leaves, wild strawberries, violets, sedum, and nettles. Just to name a few. What abundance!

Foraging Through the Seasons

Foraging, for me, is different according to the season.

In Spring, I’m looking for the fiddleheads to crest the surface among the first sprouts of sedum (which is lovely in salads). Nettle will dry for tea at a later date or sauté at present, with or without dandelion greens. I’m careful where I walk, as the Lillies and wild strawberries are trying to establish themselves, too. Maybe we’ll my two little girls and I will make a violet jam, after a couple hours of picking the sweet little purple flowers.

Summer is the perfect time for frying the lily blossoms that will be flashing their beautiful orange amongst the green. Or picking tiny wild strawberries, perfect for immediate snacking. Blueberries are coming on next, if we can catch them before the birds devour them. Then the black raspberries come out just in time for our family’s 4th of July picnic; all the cousins will take buckets out to pick in Gram’s backyard. We will enjoy cold glasses of lemonade with elderflower cordial.  Raspberries and blackberries ripen, and are great in sourdough pancakes or soaked grain muffins.

Blueberries

The weather is cools to Fall, and foraging becomes a great time for harvesting elderberries to make jam or to dry for later use in a winter-time immune boosting syrup. Autumn olives are everywhere and dripping from their branches, and the rosehips are ready for tea on a chilly night. Before the cold of winter moves in, I make a trip to the cranberry bog, just in time to make cranberry jelly for Thanksgiving.

Rosehips

Foraging helps me to notice things I never did. I now appreciate the natural world in new and exciting ways, all because I look for the food in my own backyard.

Want to join me? Get a wild foraging book for your part of the world and then find out what delicious treats are out there just waiting to be harvested. Possibly in your own backyard! You’ll probably find wonderful sources of nutrient-dense foods, and also an opportunity to see the world differently — up close and personal.

Explore, eat, enjoy!

Do you harvest what is growing naturally where you live?  What is your favorite foraged treat?

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Comments

  1. says

    It wouldn’t be summer for us without foraging for berries. In Nebraska, we gathered mulberries, black raspberries and wild mint. Here in Canada we’ve discovered Saskatoon berries. How wonderful that you have access to blueberries! I hope you beat the birds!

  2. says

    LOVE this!! Luckily, I have been able to join Amy on foraging outings, and she got me started looking for all the lovely abundance around us. Real food for free??? Sign me up! Great article and I am so looking forward to the tips!

  3. Evelyn Cole says

    I live in cotton-depleted Georgia, where there is no top soil remaining, so foraging is limited mostly to invasive weeds unless I can get to an unfarmable steep slope or creek bed. Daily I add dandelion, lesser plantain, lamb’s quarters and clover to my green shakes or cooked greens. With the surprising amount of rain I’ve been able to go on chanterelle gathering trips as well. I have an immune deficiency that I was told had to be managed with weekly infusions of other people’s antibodies, but I have stayed healthy for over a year solely through diet changes and I think the foraging is a big part of that.

    • Amy says

      Oooh, Chanterelles! That sounds wonderful. I have a friend who is going to bring me searching for Black Trumpets! I don’t do a lot with mushrooms because there are many dangerous look alikes out there and even very experienced mushroom foragers have made devastating mistakes, so be careful when looking for mushrooms. But when you find them, oh, so yummy! Diet is so important! I’m glad the changes and the dense nutritative value of the foraged greens has been helping you in such a wonderful way. Thank you for sharing that!

  4. Nikki Hull-Campbell says

    Thanks for the post Amy, looking forward to seeing more. It is wild blackberry time around here and we plan to head out today to pick some for eating out of hand and making jam to frozen berries to enjoy the rest of the year.

  5. cindi says

    Thanks for this post! It’s so amazing to become aware the first time, and then on an ongoing basis everafter, of the incredible abundance that exists all around us in nature, and far away from the grocery stores! So many things that can be crafted from all these wonderful plants, from food to medicine and everything in between. ^_^ For those new to the idea of foraging, it is wise to inform yourself on how to forage/wildcraft ethically and sustainably, for the good of yourself, the plants, the other creatures that need them and for the land itself. Happy hunting!

  6. says

    We live at 8600 feet in the Rockies of colorado I am constantly amazed at how much I now recognize as eatable and medicinal growing in abundance just here on our 40 acres! Wild chamimile, sage, goldenrod, Saskatoon, Oregon grape, chokecherry, gooseberry, mullion, pine, juniper, dandelion of course, clover,……plus I have now established a medicine garden with mugwort, valerian, hossip, horehound, feverfew, nettles, raspberry,….love, love this new discovery and have high hopes of incorporating it in my lodging as well as day to day in my life…lots to learn!!
    Thank you so, so much for all the details and work u put into educating all of us!!

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