Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wildcrafting - Gathering Nature's Bounty

As a frugal person, or well someone trying to become more frugal, being able to find items for my various interests and practices from nature is vital. It also provides a nice, almost meditative way to experience nature.
Wildcrafting is the act or art of gathering herbs, plants, and other living specimens from nature.
I'm going to give a brief discussion of what to wildcraft, how-to do it and why can be useful for you.
First, wildcrafting is free (or almost free depending on where you go). It also provides an opportunity to gather items that may not be easily grown or cultivated in your garden. Maybe you don't have room for a garden, or maybe you just have a black thumb like me, all good reasons to try wildcrafting.
You can gather so many things from nature like a multitude of flowers, edible plants, herbs, berries, fruits and fungi (which can be dangerous). Now, you have to be a little informed and do your research. As you all now, not everything is edible and not every plant is friendly, you don't want to accidentally mix-up a dandelion with poison ivy. Getting a book of your area could be handy. Also, there are plants that have been over-harvested and some are on the endangered list so be responsible and follow the rules. Also, make sure you harvest responsibly. We all want to be able to enjoy these bounties, so only harvest a third of the plant, so some will be there for the wildlife to feed on and propagate for next season. 
Make sure to give thanks back to nature for providing these delicious and beautiful items to you. A thank you goes a long way!
How to wildcraft depends on what you are looking for, but here are some tips. Get a basket or bowl to carry your bounty. Bring s few tools of the trade like scissors, knives, gloves, maybe even shears to pick and trim the parts of the plant you want. You may need some extra tools, depending on what you want to do with your harvested items. Are you wanting to dry them? Use them immediately? Eat them? Try to have these gathered before you head out, so you can use your goodies right away when they are fresh. 
You can do wildcrafting basically anywhere, even in your backyard or local parks. If you are going to government owned land, make sure you read the rules and you are allowed to remove items from the property. Also, make sure to dress for the weather and the time you will be out in the elements. Don't pick plants close to well-traveled roads or areas that have been treated with chemicals. You don't want the chemicals in your bounty. There are several wildcrafting community websites that have local directories of what edibles and such available in the area. No guaranteeing your location will be there, but you could always join and expand their database! 
Now why wildcrafting? Many of these plants and what-not can be found online to order or in your local grocery store. Well, as I stated earlier, wildcrafting is free (or almost). After you gather a few supplies you are ready to go, so the initial investment isn't a lot. Wildcrafting also expands you knowledge of your local environment, it gives you access to nature providing many health benefits, and it can boost your emotions. Being out in nature is beneficial to your body (exercise!) and your mind! There is a sense of community and communing, of partaking in an ancient activity many people no longer practice. All powerful experiences to participate in.
I plan on doing a small series on some lovelies you can readily wildcraft (or well I can readily wildcraft in my area) and how to use your goodies!
Until next time!

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