How to be a better Forager

It’s spring time. Foraging season is just around the corner! And most of you are going to make the single biggest mistake new foragers make year after year. You’ve been reading all winter, you’ve got ideas of foraging an entire meal and stocking your medicine cabinet with wild remedies, and a list about three pages long of likely foraged foods you want to find. It’s time to reset! For new foragers, the key to success, is starting small and staying focused.

When I talk to anyone just starting out with their foraging journey I give the same peice of advice over and over. Go back to your books, pick out one seasonally appropriate foraged item that you really want to find and focus on that. My general goal, especially when I started out foraging, was one new plant ID per month — not collection, just identification! Go out in the field, find that plant, take pictures, bring them home, positively ID the specimen. Go back out in the field, find it again, positively ID from your research again, maybe bring a sample specimen home for further ID. Go home. Go back out in the field, positively ID a third time, bring home and enjoy! That is the key to success! In no time you’ll have built up a repertoire of plants and mushrooms that you recognize on sight.

KEEP IT SIMPLE! I can not say it loudly enough. Take the time and care to learn each plant idividually. It may seem tedious at first, but it will make you a better forager in the long run, and you’ll be way less likely to eat something that is toxic or causes an adverse reaction.

If you’re looking for a spring forageable to start with, there are two super tasty treats that pop up pretty early in the season and are easy for beginners to positively ID — Ramps and Ostrich Fern. Pick one of them! Do your reseasrch, I highly recommend the books of Samuel Thayer as a place to start researching. Don’t rely soley on internet sources for your identifications. And most importantly, get out in the fields and woods and revel in that time in the open air! Foraging is more than collecitng foods and medecines from nature, it is time spent learning the land and allowing your soul to soak up some sunshine and fresh air! If you treat each foraging adventure as a walk in the woods, not a collection outing, you’ll soon find joy in the smallest of discoveries! Good luck!

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