It has been an interesting foraging year for us. I have found myself feeling incredibly drawn to collecting certain plants – wild rose early on in the year, mugwort throughout the summer and wild oats as the summer progressed. There have also been other plants that despite their abundance and potential, for one reason or another we didn’t forage many/any this year – elderflower and rosehips stand out as two.
When I first began to discover just how many nutritious and healing plants grow all around us, life became an exciting and busy journey of researching, learning and (sustainably) hunting for plant treasure. Each walk would be an opportunity to gather some free food and medicine and we would spend our evenings experimenting with recipes and ways to preserve our harvest for the months ahead.
In those early years, I sometimes found myself gathering frantically, scared of missing a ripe and abundant patch of something that could have been stored for teas, or made into some healing potion. Experiencing a sense of fear at the thought of having to wait a whole year for its return if I missed a harvest.
What I have learned throughout this journey is that foraging takes time. It isn’t necessarily the finding and gathering of plants that takes too long, although sometimes multiple visits to a plant may be required to harvest it at its peak ripeness. It is the cleaning, preparing, drying and processing of plants in different ways that takes both time, energy and patience. Removing individual berries or flowers from stems, infusing and straining oils and vinegars, sterilising jars and equipment is a real labour of love (and occasionally hate- the sterilising part anyway!)
A life of foraging isn’t one of convenience necessarily. It takes time and the reward is vast. Slowing down and leaning towards a more intuitive way of gathering what we are drawn to maintains my enthusiasm and energy. I feel excitement at the possibilities of next year as I sync more with the pace of nature.
I would love to know if you can relate to the feeling of missing a plant harvest and what you have found yourself drawn to this year?