WANT TO TRY FOR­AG­ING YOUR­SELF?

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How­ever, check out these zine and in­de­pen­dent press re­sources to jump­start your for­ag­ing ad­ven­ture!

* Hor­ti­cul­tural Coun­ter­pow­ers by Madi­son

* Fire­weed and Har­vest Pre­serve by Jess Krueger

* Rad­i­cal My­col­ogy, An Herbal Medicine-mak­ing Primer, and other zines from Sprout Distro. (sprout­dis­tro.com)

* Her­bal­ist Zine by Osteal * The Fruit­ful City by He­lena Montcrieff

Be­fore you start your own for­ag­ing ad­ven­ture, start off by learn­ing these guide­lines:

* Do no harm to the land. Take only what you need.

* Re­search the treaties and First Na­tions pro­to­cols gov­ern­ing the land you are on with re­gards to gath­er­ing plants. Reach out to lo­cal In­dige­nous lead­ers to ask how to for­age re­spect­fully.

* Learn how to iden­tify a species. Look for how-to zines and guide­books that are spe­cific to your

re­gion, or bet­ter yet, learn from an ex­pe­ri­enced teacher. If you’re not 100% sure you have the cor­rect plant, pass it up. Many wild plants can be poi­sonous or are not ap­pro­pri­ate to gather.

* Start small. If you’re new to a plant, only take a small amount to en­sure that you like it and are not al­ler­gic.

* Un­der­stand how the plant re­pro­duces to en­sure re­spon­si­ble for­ag­ing, and learn the sta­bil­ity of cur­rent plant pop­u­la­tions. Sen­si­tive na­tive plants es­pe­cially should be har­vested spar­ingly, if at all. A good for­ag­ing guide will be able to di­rect you.

* If you are plan­ning on eat­ing the plant, avoid ar­eas that may be pol­luted, such as road­sides or lawns that have been sprayed.

* Learn where you can for­age legally. Ask per­mis­sion to gather on pri­vate land, and reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing for­ag­ing differ from park to park. Un­sure? Your own back­yard is a great place to start!

SUG­GES­TIONS FOR FOR­AG­ING STING­ING NET­TLES:

* You can find sting­ing net­tles start­ing in the spring through au­tumn. Eat them when they are fresh and young. Once they start to flower, it’s best to pass them by.

* Look for them in wet ar­eas, such as along­side creeks, edges of damp woods, and ar­eas with rich soil. Net­tles are peren­nial and will come back in the same spot year af­ter year.

* Sting­ing net­tles are easy to iden­tify. Touch them and you’ll know. They are cov­ered with tiny hairs that pro­duce the feel­ing of a bee st­ing or an ant bite. Look for the hairs on the stems and the leaves; they are easy to see. They have square

stems and op­po­site leaves, with prom­i­nent veins and ob­long-heart shape and sharply­toothed edges.

* Wear thick leather or rub­ber dish gloves when har­vest­ing, and use scis­sors or clip­pers to snip off the top 2-3 sets of leaves.

* The sting­ing hairs are dis­abled when the plant is dried or ex­posed to cook­ing heat. Lay your har­vest on a cookie sheet or a screen to dry, then use in tea. Steam or saute, like spinach, and then you can use in a va­ri­ety of recipes. Pair with a fat like but­ter or cream, and make a fan­tas­tic soup.

It’s al­ways great to be­gin your for­ag­ing jour­ney with some in-per­son guid­ance, such as through Toronto’s Wild For­agers So­ci­ety, a har­vest­ing group sim­i­lar to Not Far From The Tree for a proper close-up in­tro­duc­tion to gath­er­ing wild plants.

Sting­ing net­tles, Ur­tica dioica, are a pop­u­lar for­ag­ing plant that yields many uses. The most com­mon va­ri­ety is na­tive to Europe and has nat­u­ral­ized in ar­eas through­out North Amer­ica. The ten­der tops can be sauteed or steamed and eaten as a nu­tri­tious wild green. When dried and taken as a tea or pow­der in cap­sule form, they are a valu­able medic­i­nal herb, help­ing to re­plen­ish vi­ta­mins af­ter a long win­ter, or block his­tamines dur­ing al­lergy sea­son. The stems can be spun into thread or turned into cordage, and the plants yield a green­ish-grey nat­u­ral dye.

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