I’ve always been a lover of flowers and herbs and as many of you know I love to incorporate a ton of botanicals in to my products. From rosemary exfoliants, to chamomile toppings and now my latest obsession with Herbal Facial Steams it only made sense to join the wild-crafting community. For the enjoyment of exploring and being outdoors, the perk of saving a few bucks and of course being able to locally and naturally source a good percentage of my ingredients.
Wild crafting isn’t anything new, foraging has been going on for centuries for food sources, teas blends and medicinal reasons but for some (myself included) it’s a simple way to become more educated and re-connect with nature.
Wildcrafting is the practice of collecting herbs, flowers, berries, mushrooms and other botanicals from nature in a responsible and conscious manner.
I can’t stress this enough; prior to venturing out grab your books and printouts, you truly want to be selective and safe when foraging. Ignorance can wipe out protected plants, lead you to picking the incorrect species or even worse seriously hurting yourself with poisonous mushrooms! Be prepared and knowledgeable. If in doubt, do not pick!
When you're looking for herbs to harvest, don't collect from the first patch you see. This is the first patch most people probably see! Instead, keep trekking moving off the trail if possible to look for another patch. Take your time and explore! The key is to harvest from a location that won't be noticeably damaged the next time someone walks by.
Start slow and try to harvest plants that are not damaged easily before you go for the more fragile ones. Some plants, like dandelion, nettle, yarrow, and blackberry are just about impossible to kill simply by picking them -- they'll always grow back. Also, when you take a plant, take only what you will use. A nice rule of thumb is a specific ratio of one in six. So for every plant you harvest; you must leave six plants in the same patch!
Remember your pictures & books and try to familiarize yourself with wild plants. You do not want to pick protected plants. Unfortunately, sometimes they are not always easy for a beginner to identify. They are not always bright, colorful and showy. There may be an abundance in one spot appearing to be plentiful.
Want to get started? Here are a few recommendations of helpful books.
Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants Paperback – by Samuel Thayer
Looking for more info? Check your local Heritage Program Database, call the Dept. of AG, Dept. of Forestry or a local Native plant society chapter to find its address. This will connect you to experts on particular plants and current lists! Here in Oregon? check out http://inr.oregonstate.edu/orbic
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