WANT TO TRY FORAGING YOURSELF?
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.