Foraging is searching for and hopefully finding edible food in it’s natural habitat. In this article we will be discussing foraging for edible plants.
Most kids, given the opportunity, love to go exploring in the great outdoors. Why not teach them the basics of foraging while you’re enjoying nature?
Before there were farms, people learned to search out fruits, berries, roots, and plants. This came in very handy when wild game was scarce.
We have become accustomed to the convenience of hopping in the car and driving to the store for anything we have the desire to eat. A very small amount of people head to the woods and fields for food. The art of foraging is slowly being lost.
You can help keep the tradition alive by bringing your children along while you forage. Young ones will enjoy having a treasure hunt in the fresh air and it will make them tired so they sleep well after their fresh air adventure.
They’ll learn a lot about the earth also. Real life lessons on soil, wetlands, weather, wildlife, habitat, and plant identification are priceless.
They will see that taking care of our planet by not littering and leaving enough plants to regenerate next year is important. They’ll also learn the importance of silence.
It’s imperative to know without a shadow of a doubt that you are harvesting plants that are not harmful to humans. There are many plants that have poisonous look-alikes that could cause serious illness or death.
A field guide for the particular area you will be searching in is a must. An even better idea is to find a local mentor who has had many years of experience in identifying edible plants. They will also know the conditions of the ground and woods.
A field guide cannot tell you if there has been a recent chemical spill or spraying, but a mentor can. You can find a mentor by asking your nearest college extension or nature center.
You don’t need any special equipment to forage, making it a great cost free activity for your family. You should bring baskets, bags, or buckets to carry your treasure home. Include a trowel, your field guide, a compass, and insect spray.
Always bring bottled water and warn your kids to never drink from a pond, stream, or spring. Although it isn’t required, I personally feel anyone in the woods should wear an orange vest, regardless of the time of year. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes.
If you aren’t quite adventurous enough to go beyond your own home, you can still forage. Kids will love picking dandelions from the yard (as long as it hasn’t been sprayed with any chemical) and making their very own tea or salad.
Just popping the bright yellow flowers into their mouths can be a fun experience. Remember, whatever you do, never eat any plant you aren’t absolutely sure about.
These are just the very basics for getting started foraging. There is much more to learn. So what do you think? Will you give foraging a try?