From learning how to recognize Wild Raspberries and Elder, to discovering how to make dandelion and burdock drink or a wild cherry pie. Identifying, collecting and eating herbs and other plants that grow wild in nature has been always one of the most appreciated activities for children: it helps connect them with nature and learn the importance of where food comes from. This is basically what our grandparents used to file under the voice “how to entertain kids in the woods”. Today we call it “foraging“.
So what’s new? We are all simply turned into techno-loafers: great knowledge, less hands-on experience. “In a world of increasingly sedentary lifestyles and a growing detachment from the food that we eat – said Adele Nozedar, author of the illustrated book Foraging with kids – it has never been more important to encourage children to put down their screens, get outside and engage with nature”.
It’s time to rewake our inner spirit and delve deeply into foraging with the help of our kids follow some practical tips for safe hand-picking. If you don’t feel confident dealing with the wilderness, no problem. It’s plenty of literature out there to take inspirations from. “Foraging with kids” is one of the books on the shelf meant for your wild journey: it encourages families and teachers to interact with their environment and gain knowledge and practical understanding of the natural world through exploration and play, essential information on plant facts and identification such as making soap from conkers or stopping minor cuts from bleeding with hedge woundwort. And how about making a tea from Linden Blossoms? The beautiful handwriting of Adele Nozedar takes readers to a really fantastic journey into the wilderness: a project based around 50+ easy-to-identify plants that are abundant in parks, forests and hedgerows worldwide.
Ready to start? Here are a couple of tips: search for the most popular foods to forage like mushrooms, nettles, wild garlic, elder, dandelion, hawthorn, berries, nuts, mallow. Once back home, If you aren’t going to eat your plants on site, then put each species in a separate bag and label them with name and date. But before you go, don’t forget to pack your survival kit: scissors, small bags to collect your findings, a journal and a guide.
If you still don’t feel confident find a mentor or join a local group on a woods walk. Foraging is easier if you are prepared and especially when well wrapped up. “Bring appropriate clothing — suggested the American Foraging expert Steve Brill who has been leading foraging tours in parks throughout the Greater NY area since 1982 – extra layers and a warm hat, thick socks and gloves if it’s cold. Bring plenty of water or ice water in an insulated container, special clothes that wick away sweat, and a broad-brimmed hat, in hot weather”. For the last 35 years, the self-taught forager, tour guide, and author, Steve Brill has been bringing people into fields and parks to show them food they can easily find in the wild to eat or cook. A typical tour with Steve it may run up to the three-hours. When people sign up for his masterclasses, they are told to bring plastic or paper bags for collecting food and pens to mark the bags. Every few feet, “Wildman” Brill stops and points out plants to eat, adding jokes and stories whenever he could. An event not to be missed.