Wild Foraging: What’s Already Happening in Nature?

David put together this great resource for Transition Goshen’s “Open Space” Meeting, and we both thought some of my readers might find the information interesting and helpful as well.

Topic: What’s already happening in nature?

foraging & wild edibles
leaf mulch
minimum effort and resources
less control over nature

Lawn Totalitarian Rule

Discussion notes:

Beneficial plants and “weeds”

Right this very moment we are surrounded by abundant food, healing herbs, and fertilizer – if only we had the eyes to see them not as “weeds” and understand how to use them properly! – that we routinely try to rid from our gardens and yards. It somehow all seems very resource-intensive, unnecessary, and backwards.

This discussion centered around embracing beneficial plants and resources/processes already naturally occurring in our yards, gardens, and neighborhoods that require little or no effort to grow or harvest while providing great potential benefit.

Why do we work so hard to eradicate so many established, resilient edible & beneficial “weeds” from our gardens and yards in order to painstakingly cultivate/propagate a very narrow variety of finicky “acceptable” plants of equal or lesser nutritive value which requires tremendous resources from us (time & effort) and the earth (additional water & higher quality soil – likely sourced off-site)?

And, why do we spend a great deal of time and effort every fall to rid our lawns of leaves that are nutrient dense and can easily be used to enrich our gardens and lawns?

Forget manna from heaven – let’s learn to properly use these bountiful natural resources that already surround us!

Foraging/Wild Edibles

As there are frequently “look-alike” plants that could potentially be harmful, it would be wise and prudent to learn to forage and identify wild edibles from an expert to raise our awareness and confidence levels.

Local Expert Foraging & Wild Edible Resources:
Within our community it was suggested that Paul Steury would be a great resource. We will coordinate with Paul to request that he create a group event.

Elkhart County Parks is offering the following wild edibles tasting and hike:

“Wild Edibles”

Spring brings a bounty of nature’s best succulent wild edibles. Fried dandelions, wild leek, stinging nettle soup, cattail muffins with mint and sassafras tea to name a few. Please join us as we sample some of nature’s best recipes. Your taste buds will thank you! A wild edibles hike will complete our program so dress appropriately.

Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Cost: $4/person or $10/family
Preregister by: Thursday, April 25
Call (574) 535-6458
Location: Black Maple Shelter, Ox Bow County Park
(from the Elkhart County Parks Events Calendar at http://www.elkhartcountyparks.org/)

Regional Expert Foraging & Wild Edible Resources:
For regional experts, if there is adequate interest we could explore what would be required (cost, minimum number of registered participants) to have Chicago-based urban foraging expert Nance Klehm lead an urban foraging hike or have Wisconsin-based “Wild Eats” founders Linda Conroy and “Little John” Holzwart prepare a group wild food dining experience.

Nance Klehm information:
(from: http://spontaneousvegetation.net/bio/)
“Nance Klehm is a steward of the earth. She is an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permacultural grower, as well as an in demand consultant, speaker, and teacher. She is respected internationally for her work on land politics and growing for fertility.”

“She is the bioinstigator-in-residence at the Center for Land Interpretation’s off-the-grid site in the desert outside of Wendover, Utah. Since 2007, Nance has worked with post-consumer materials (including solid and liquid human waste, grey water from sinks and showers, food, yard waste, manure, and cardboard) and transformed these materials into biologically rich soil (using decomposition, filtering, and fermentation). The resulting waste-sponge soil systems sustain a habitat of edible and medicinal plants, digestion of soil salinity, and the capturing, storing and use of precipitation.”

“She lives and grows in the middle of Little Village, a densely packed, diverse urban neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. Her house and land are daily practice in permaculture and urban living. She has worked with chickens, quails, rabbits, fish, and dairy animals. Nance is bilingual in Spanish and English, understands basic French, is a canner, a preserver, practices yoga and meditation, has traveled the world, and can be totally hilarious.”

Utne Reader article: http://www.utne.com/environment/nance-klehm-zm0z12ndzlin.aspx

Nance Klehm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nance-Klehm/182381225215544

Nance Klehm videos:

Urbanforaging with Weedeater Nance Klehm: http://youtu.be/DMapV2LXslw

Early Spring Forage w/ Nance Klehm: http://youtu.be/7kmxRYqtBtE

A visit to the Simparch Clean Livin’ project at CLUI w/ Nance Klehm: http://youtu.be/w8QmQZMHJ_o

Linda Conroy information:

(from: http://www.wisewomanuniversity.org/conroy/index.html)
“Linda Conroy is a bioregional, wise woman herbalist, educator, wildcrafter, permaculturist, and an advocate for women’s health.”

“She is the proprietress of Moonwise Herbs and the founder of Wild Eats: a movement to encourage people and communities to incorporate whole and wild food into their daily lives. She is passionate about women’s health and has been working with women for over 20 years in a wide variety of settings.”

“Linda is a student of nonviolent communication and she has a masters degree in Social Work as well as Law and Social Policy. Linda has been offering hands on herbal programs and food education classes for well over a decade. She has completed two herbal apprenticeship programs, one of which was with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center and she has a certificate in Permaculture Design. Linda is a curious woman whose primary teachers are the plants; they never cease to instill a sense of awe and amazement.”

Additional Linda Conroy resources:
Linda Conroy and “Little John” Holzwart’s “Wild Eats” dinnners: http://www.moonwiseherbs.com/eat-wild-community-meals/

Audio interview with Linda (30 minutes): http://www.wisewomanuniversity.org/conroy/index.html

Linda’s Moonwise Herbs page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Moonwise-Herbs/183651188323934

Leaf Mulch & Wild Edibles resources:

Leaf Mulch information:

At the very least, mulch your leaves into your lawn rather than raking them to the curb to have the city dispose of them for you. Better yet, save your shredded leaves to use as mulch in your garden the next season. I own an electric mulching leaf vacuum as well as a mulching mower (which can be used with the bag to catch the mulched leaves to save for next season’s garden or without the bag to put the shredded leaves on your lawn) that I would be happy to lend anyone in the fall.

(the following information is from the article “Using Leaves for Composting”: http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/)

“The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus. Pound for pound, the leaves of most trees contain twice as many minerals as manure. For example, the mineral content of a sugar maple leaf is over five percent, while even common pine needles have 2.5 percent of their weight in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, plus other trace elements.”

“Since most trees are deep-rooted, they absorb minerals from deep in the soil and a good portion of these minerals go into the leaves. See the accompanying chart for an analysis of the nutrient elements in fallen leaves.”

“Actually, these multi-colored gifts from above are most valuable for the large amounts of fibrous organic matter they supply. Their humus-building qualities mean improved structure for all soil types. They aerate heavy clay soils, prevent sandy soils from drying out too fast, soak up rain and check evaporation.”

“The ability of leaf mold to retain moisture is almost miraculous. Subsoil can hold a mere 20 percent of its weight; good, rich topsoil will hold 60 percent, but leaf mold can retain 300 to 500 percent of its weight in water.”

“Freshly fallen leaves pass through several stages from surface litter to well-decomposed humus partly mixed with mineral soil. Leaf mold from deciduous trees is somewhat richer in such mineral foods as potash and phosphorus than that from conifers. The nitrogen content varies from .2 to 5 percent.”

Additional Foraging and Wild Edibles Resources:

Wild Edibles Videos:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Dandelion: http://youtu.be/UebH2Pb-18s

Lambsquarter: Christopher Nyerges Class: http://youtu.be/z17zdk7FXz8

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens : Wild Violet: http://youtu.be/SjSTa5kDZYQ

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Miner’s Lettuce: http://youtu.be/coB-qhAHLo8

Sergei Boutenko – Wild Edibles: Daisies: http://youtu.be/H7Xm8VUTlOQ

Sergei Boutenko – Wild Edible Stinging Nettles: http://youtu.be/bhK2jAeCgyk

David Wolfe – How to Eat Stinging Nettles: http://youtu.be/KpxMDeH1x5Y

Sergei Boutenko – How To Eat Wild Grasses: Wheat Grass: http://youtu.be/THAcyXDvn8E

Purslane – a Super Green for Super Nutrition: http://youtu.be/rfFEO9FYEsU

Eat The Weeds: Episode 91: Purslane: http://youtu.be/8tw8DcGAGmo

EatTheWeeds: Episode 12: Chickweed, Stellaria: http://youtu.be/qy3vRYftDqE

Edible Weed Chickweed anti-inflammatory blood purifier: http://youtu.be/ewH5h5VZZJU

EatTheWeeds: Episode 13: Plantagos, Plantains: http://youtu.be/uBeI3tc6Xdo

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Fool’s Onion: http://youtu.be/8_hbHhuzjGY

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Wild Strawberry: http://youtu.be/EYib6gheBSU

Sergei Boutenko – Purple thistle or prickly lettuce: http://youtu.be/cfeohjOsJKE

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: The Cattail: http://youtu.be/fjwh4ghZx3A

Edible weeds in my garden: http://youtu.be/mCQaMyncR6I

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] Food Forests and free community gardens would liberate people like few other things. Wild food foraging — gathering weeds and otherwise undervalued or despised edibles — is one of the most […]



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