Wildcrafting: Where To Go


| 3/16/2018 4:13:00 PM


In my last blog entry, I introduced the topic of wildcrafting. Let’s go a bit further and explore where to go to find dynamic herbal medicine in the wild.

There is no experience quite like harvesting your own plants in the wild for medicine and food. Buying herbs in a store or through a mail order company never comes close in quality to what you can gather yourself. Locating harvest places outside of the footprint of others is nothing less than an enjoyable treasure hunt. I call it herbal reconnaissance. The vistas to be seen, birdsong, the calls of small animals, fresh air, bees buzzing, feet on the ground, and the occasional deer and waterfall all add up to an encounter that is like none other. The all-around beauty is exquisite, and the plants are the freshest you can possibly get. Nothing can beat a plant picked at the right time from a healthy stand for strong medicine and nutritional content. I teach my students that just being out in nature is healing in itself. That we get to harvest plants is a bonus for which we are always grateful.

harvesting valerian
Photo by Suzanne Tabert

One of the most frequent questions I hear from my students is where they can go to harvest plants in the wild. The places where I take students is off limits to them, their family, and friends. It’s the number one rule at the Cedar Mountain Herb School! Thinking it through, if the thousands of students I’ve taught over the last 30 years all came back to harvest at the same places where I’ve shared with them for study, and brought their friends, who bring their friends, where would the plants be? They would all be gone, and their ability to generously give of themselves for healing would be taken away. Respect the plants, the stands, the animals who also need the plants, and the time it took for the teacher/harvester to find the locations.

Planning is key before harvesting plants. Knowing the medicine of the plants, when to harvest for the best quality of constituents, what part of the plants, the harvesting tools needed, how long it takes to process them after picking, and best ways to preserve them are all things to make note of before any harvesting is done. After harvesting, look at the stand and ask yourself if there are clear signs of harvesting. If so, be more mindful of using a lighter touch.



wildcrafting near stream
Photo by Suzanne Tabert



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