I hope this month’s Five Things will inspire some of you to share in this joyful experience of nature’s abundance.
I’ve noticed a growing interest in foraging in the last few years – there seem to be more books, workshops, guided walks, culinary experiences and restaurants featuring wild foods than ever before.
I think this is wonderful, as long as sustainability and respect for nature remain central.
The slowing down and paying attention that goes along with foraging is so good for all of us. Not to mention the nutritional and medicinal value available to us in these wild food sources!
Making space in my life for foraging
The month of July has marked a big change for our family. We have shaken up our employment situation in a big way to get a bit closer to our dream life. I won’t go into detail in this post, but I will say that I now have a little bit more morning time a few days a week.
Time is still very precious, with small children who need us for so much and juggling various jobs between us. I have chosen to use my extra time to walk for an hour three mornings a week.
Walking alone without pushing 100 lbs of stroller and two children is a huge luxury, and something I used to spend time doing every day.
Walking has always been my time to reflect, meditate, recharge, and sweat out whatever I am going through.
In the year after my father died, I walked for an hour every single day, just grieving – this way, I processed the pain and trauma.
I walked nearly daily through my first pregnancy and first year of motherhood, to relish the solitude and process the enormous change taking place.
These walks took me along rural highways, woodland trails, fields, forests, and shorelines. My mind would drift back and forth from my thoughts to the elements of nature.
Tiny details would grab my attention – vibrant green moss, the spotted wing of a bird, the glimmer of light on a brook, the feathery fingers of a willow – and then I would turn back to my steps, to my breath. Sometimes I would stop for a moment just to listen, take photographs, or explore something I noticed.
That dance between stillness and movement, thinking and just being – it is intoxicating and healing.
Nature gives us so much when we allow it to.
Foraging has always been a part of my life, though I claim no special knowledge.
I grew up picking wild berries and harvesting mussels from the underside of beach rocks. I learned to dig for clams, pick rose hips, sauce wild apples, chew on dried dulse, cook fiddleheads, and even do a little fishing.
It delighted me then, as it does now.
As an adult, I tried cattails, tangy sorrel, bitter dandelion greens, fresh pacific crab, periwinkle, sumac, bunchberry, minty wintergreen, elderberry, spruce tips, and anything I could identify.
I was taught how to find chanterelles when I was living on the West Coast. I’ll never forget my first feast, those golden, sweet apricot scented wonders browned in butter over my campfire. I ate them with my fingers, overlooking a Vancouver Island beach, the air perfumed by cedar scented wood smoke.
I also learned to hunt them in Nova Scotia, an experience I wrote about in the Sierra Club Atlantic magazine The Sandpiper (Wood Smoke and Wine: My Summer Romance with the Chanterelle)
Eating wild foods, receiving nourishment from the land, and connecting so intimately with the earth makes me feel nourished, safe, joyful, and authentically human.
I certainly come home happier with a small handful of sweet, earthy mushrooms than I do with a few bags of groceries. (Though I appreciate that I have the means and ability to secure both.)
On my first morning walk this month, I caught a glimpse of gold against a mossy roadside bank. Chanterelles! I wasted no time – down into the ditch I went, up the steep bank, slippery with pine needles. I stuffed my pockets.
The next day, I came prepared with a paper bag. I had gold fever!
Eating Wild in Eastern Canada: A Guide to Foraging the Field, Forest, and Shorelines by Jamie Simpson
I picked up this book recently. isn’t the cover beautiful? Eating Wild in Eastern Canada has everything you need in a foraging book – beautiful clear colour photographs, well-written descriptions, and personal storytelling. Simpson passes on his local knowledge as well as his passion for foraging in Nova Scotia.
We have such abundance in this province with its undeveloped natural spaces and diversity.
I think this book will bring me great joy as I stretch my foraging wings out a bit wider.
Daniel Vitalis is kind of incredible. To spend time listening to his podcast is to connect with your inner wildness. He makes me want to wear fur, get out my bow and arrow, hunt my dinner, and then curl up by the woodstove sipping spruce elderberry tea. He is a really intelligent and inspiring person and I love his work.
Here are a few especially ReWild Yourself episodes that explore the topic of foraging.
Episode #175 Is Wild Food a Privilege with Arthur Haines. Haines is a forager, ancestral skills mentor, author, public speaker, and botanical researcher. This is a really thoughtful interview.
Episode #164 On Becoming a Generalist with Kevin Kossowan. Kossowan is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and creator of the television series, From The Wild. His focus is a bit more on fishing and hunting, which is something I want to learn more about in the future.
I found this podcast through the Weston A Price Foundation website.
This is a good podcast for the beginner or anyone interested in learning more about foraging. Griffith chats about her own experience foraging in her backyard and neighbourhood and how she grew her knowledge slowly over time.
I like the way she encourages people to connect with one plant at a time and get to know it deeply and then build on that.
If you are looking for a local experience to introduce you to foraging and wild foods, there are some very passionate folks in Nova Scotia who cater to foodies of this variety.
Hobo Crow Herbs is a small, sustainable business run by a beautiful young family. I met them when they lived on the South Shore, but they now call the Annapolis Valley home.
Hobo Crow Herbs connects people to the land and earth through wild foods & medicine.
Visit them at markets and you will find a gorgeous display of wildcrafted & naturally grown herbs, small batch teas, tinctures, balms, salves, hand crafted wood, antler, and bone jewellery, and many more seasonal delights.
You can also join their Wild Food & Herbal CSA. I have received a few monthly boxes and they are full of incredible goodness and also presented beautifully. We love the fire cider and nerve tonic. I also appreciate the letter they include each month full of useful knowledge about each product or ingredient.
Hobo Crow Herbs has partnered with Dark Mountain Wild Labs to host some intimate, magical, bordering on fantastical, multi-course dinners for poetic and adventurous souls. I am so eager to attend one of these!
Avery Peters shares her love of foraging and eating wild foods through Wild Eats Adventure. On her blog, she shares a collection of stories about her family food adventures.
She is a writer and editor with a passion for wild and local food and a mother of two – so, a kindred spirit for certain.
Her latest adventure, Wild Feast Dinners, is a collaboration with Chef Nelson Penner. Avery and Penner host wild food inspired pop-up events and meals in the Annapolis Valley.
My friend Michelle Doucette shares her stunning photographs and writes beautifully about her experience at The Wild Feast & Foraging Hike on her blog, East Coast Food Stories. If you love beautiful, local food photography, you must check out Michelle’s blog.
It is through this post that learned about Sarah d’Apollonia of East Coast Wild Foods. Yet another talented woman sharing her love and knowledge of wild foods in Nova Scotia!
My heart and hands are so full of abundance!
*This post contains an affiliate link. Please shop locally when possible, but all the books I write about are available on Amazon and purchasing them via the link gives me a tiny percentage.