I took my first foraging (also known as wildcrafting) class ten years ago, and have been tumbling down the rabbit hole ever since. I’m not overstating when I say that eating wild has changed my life. Now, as a mother of two, foraging for wild edibles with my children has brought us closer to the plants, to nature as a whole and to each other. Today my four year old and two year old are identifying and eating wild, but there were definitely some bumps along the way.
I’m sharing some of the mistakes I made when I first started out wildcrafting with my children in hopes that you and your family can get a head start:
1. Went it Alone
I would have had so many less questions and fear if I had started out with a community of parents / caretakers (or even just one other person). Foraging in a group just feels natural, and the shared knowledge helps foster an atmosphere of confidence. Not to mention, it’s so much more fun for kids to forage together. Even better if the group you are foraging with is organized by or includes an experienced local forager!
One of my biggest fears was that if I showed my daughter how to eat one plant, she would go around eating everything. In all the time we’ve been out together, that scenario never materialized. Children are intuitive and especially tuned into nature. If we guide them and remain present, they can differentiate plants at a very young age. Below is a picture of my one year old niece seeking out and eating Field Garlic (Allium vineale) among the grass.
3. Brought on Snackageddon
This seems so obvious now, but the first time my oldest daughter and I went out with the expressed purpose of foraging, I didn’t properly prepare. I had this romantic vision of us snacking on the abundance of nuts and wild berries that we would find. Now I just treat it like any other hike or walk in the woods, bringing a light snack and drink to help keep our energy up.
4. Over Complicated it
I read so much before I started foraging with my kids that by the time I took them out, I had a million plants and herbs swimming in my head. Thinking back, I could have just walked out the door, looked down at our feet and met one plant at a time. Also foraging doesn’t have to be an event, we forage anytime, anywhere. I now consider it more of a state of mind and a way of seeing the wilder world.
5. Missed the Point
In the beginning, I couldn’t help but get caught up in idea of gathering and collecting for our own purposes. But, consumption isn’t the point, connection is. With enough experience foraging, children form an authentic connection to nature and regard her as a healing, supportive force in their lives. Holding this thought in my mind has helped me slow down our pace and focus on the journey instead of the product.
What Went Right
One thing I managed to do right was to sign us up for Herb Fairies, a 13 book adventure series that teaches kids about healing herbs. I was so excited to find these stories and to witness the joy they brought into my daughter’s life.
Herb Fairies uses fairies, trolls and magic to introduce thirteen of the most common healing herbs. In addition to the stories, we also use their Magic Keeper’s Journal, recipes, coloring books and parental guide to deepen the experience.
It’s somewhat difficult for me to explain Herb Fairies because there is nothing quite like it. It’s best if you just learn more about it for yourself here. Herb Fairies only opens once a year, and the doors close on Wednesday May 17, 2017 at midnight.
The above includes affiliate links to the Herb Fairies program, which means that I get a small percentage if you decide to purchase. Out of all the companies and organizations who have asked me, Herb Fairies is the only product I have ever agreed to partner with. My daughter and I have grown with Herb Fairies for the past two years, and I am confident that you’ll love it as much as we do!
Your Woman Gone Wild,