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Tips for Mindful Foraging
Foraging is one of our favourite ways to boost well-being and connect with nature. For many of us, a foraging hobby is born out of a desire to search for wild food or medicine. As we grow deeper in this practice, we are nourished by the earth in many ways.
Foraging, at its core, is an act of mindfulness. Gathering wild plants takes us on a journey, reconnecting us to the earth, to creation, and to self. What is perhaps most magical about foraging is that it can be as easy as a stroll in your backyard, or wandering off the beaten path of your local trail.
For budding foragers, it’s easy to get caught up in gathering and learning. However, it's important to be respectful of the environment around you and treat it with care. Here are 5 tips to guide your foraging code of ethics and foster a mindful relationship with your local ecosystem:
Create a Symbolic Relationship
Learning about your local environment takes time and research. We recommend identifying 2-3 medicinal plants that are common to your local area to start. Once you’ve chosen your herbal allies, give yourself time to read, seek out, taste, engage, feel, and utilize these few plants. Not only does this round out your knowledge of a plant, but it creates a lasting connection so the plant can find you time and time again.
Correctly Identify Plants
If foraging is a new mindful practice in your arsenal, we highly recommend joining a plant walk with your local herbal community or seeking out resources that will guide correct plant identification. Not only is this important for your own safety, but it will also help you identify threatened, protected, or invasive plant species and create a sustainable harvesting practice.
Take Only What You Need
Remember that you are in the presence of an active ecosystem. A great rule of thumb for gathering is to only take one-third of a given plant or single grouping of plants. This ensures that the plant will be able to grow back and nourish the earth, as well as provide wild food and medicine for animal foragers.
Foraging reminds us that nature gives freely and abundantly. Before harvesting, take a moment to show appreciation for the plant. Set an intention, and thank it for the medicine it shares. Little by little, the connection between the forager and the plants grows stronger.
Leave No Footprint
Harvest with tenderness and do your very best to leave the natural ecosystem as you found it. Tread lightly and try not to disrupt surrounding plants. When harvesting, it’s best to collect your produce in reusable cloth bags, baskets, or tea towels rather than plastic bags. Before you leave the area, be sure to remove all human traces, garbage, and discarded plant material with you.
What mindfulness practices deepen your connection to nature while foraging?