Friday, June 5, 2009

We're Going Wild!

In a good way! This summer we've decided to get serious about wild-harvesting as much of our family's food as possible. We've been reminded, after years of nearly fruitless toil, trying to raise a garden in our arid, sandy soil, that the wilderness areas nearby seem always to be lush and green with growing things. We love the wild edibles (some call them weeds) growing in our yard, and eat them frequently, but we are ready to branch out, so to speak, and take up searching out nearby edibles more seriously.

Want to join us? First, you'll want something inspiring to get you motivated. Try reading one or more of Euell Gibbons' books (he was one of my father's heroes), and NOT want to go out and hunt up some cattails for dinner!

Next, you will have to pull out your field guides, unless you are lucky enough to have a mentor nearby who can take you on a guided wild food tour (After seeing how woefully inadequate your field guides are, you'll start scanning the internet, looking for more!)~

You'll want a good hand lens for identifying flowers, as well as insects, etc. (We bought ours very reasonably on

If you can find an interested friend, so much the better~
Next, go on a drive around your area to any nearby bodies of water, or wooded areas, and take a look around you~you're sure to find something to use within walking distance.

Here we see thistles, milkweed, burdock, and willows, all edible or medicinal.

Bring lots of bags with you for collecting both your wild foods and for specimens of things you don't know, for later identification. Big books work well for make-shift plant presses. You will find a lot of things that you can't find in the books, and that's okay. Just take pictures or pressings of those for later. Take your time, and don't expect to know everything at once. Think of it as a life-long venture, and try to learn one or two things that you can't identify each week, keeping track of them in a journal (This is SO important; don't think you'll remember details like where, when and how you located something!).

This mushroom doesn't look like anything in the book, so we're going to study it further.
So far the few new things we've tried are: milk weed shoots (very sweet), nettles (yum and so nutritious), and thistle stalks (tastes like artichoke). We plan on harvesting burdock leaf stems (Peeled and boiled, they're supposed to taste a little like potatoes) and the flowering stalks before they bud out, and using the cattails at our favorite pond, as well as learning to positively identify more mushrooms (Right now, inky caps, puffballs, and morels are about the only ones we're sure of.) We feel it only fair to warn you, that once you start, you may become quite addicted!

On a serious note, we believe that the time has come for all of us to become more secure in survival situations, both with finding the food and the medicine that our Lord has so generously provided for us, wherever we live. Then we won't have to live in fear of what would happen if we were to find ourselves jobless, homeless, or without medical care. We believe that the Lord wants His children to feel safe and secure, no matter may be happening in the world around us.

Though sometimes it may seem that the darkness is closing in on us,

The sun will shine again,
Bringing with it the promise of God's love and protection.



"I know no way of loving God more than loving His creation." ~Euell Gibbons

p.s. Speaking of wild foods, Dad has found something to praise in serviceberries!


  1. Fascinating post, We have not done a lot of wild harvest, but should look into it. We are also trying to be more serious about using our land, stocking up, making the most with what God gave us. Clarice

  2. Like Clarice ~ I have not done much in the way of wild harvest, but it is, indeed, something I would like to do. I am a very picky eater ~ I can't even think about some "normal" foods without getting an upset stomach and I have no confidence in my judgement of what is a good or bad mushroom! So I will have to go for less dangerous things like dandelion and nettles! :~}
    Thanks for this most interesting post and hope you do some more on the subject!

  3. Wow that's awesome how resourceful. My grandmother used to take us to the big open field across the street and gather I think it was dandelion leaves for salad. Thanks for sharing your beautiful family with us, although I will add I am absolutely terrified of butterflies I would have been screaming my head off most ungracefuly lol! Blessings ~Heather

  4. Querida Marqueta, que cosa no, lo que otra personal considera yerba mala (weeds) es comida para otros.

    Mi abuela hacia lo mismo que tu estas haciendo ahora. Pero en Colombia, la yerba mala es mas facil de identificar.

    Los hongos tambien crecen salvajes en el bosque, pero no cerca a la playa donde yo vivia.

    Gracias, otra vez, por tu conocimiento. Esos ninos tuyos, van a saber sobrevivir donde Dios los ponga :-)

    bendiciones y con mucho carino,

    lady m


  6. Dear Marqueta, I love this post and will be very interested in hearing what else you find. I have planted some "wilds" in my yard: nettles are doing very well, chicory died out, but I agree with you wholeheartedly that the wild areas of vegetation are always so lush and vibrant. There's a lesson there, don't you agree? :)

    I love the picture of you in the garden. At first I thought you were one of the girls! Beautiful pictures! I can't wait to hear more.


  7. Wild food is becoming quite popular in Britain also. We have several TV programmes covering the subject of what is good to eat and the best way to cook it. Do you have wild roses? If so the rosehips will make wonderful syrup in the autumn, full of vitamin C. Interestingly children in Eastern Europe (Poland etc) are taught from an early age which fungi it is safe to eat and consequently they all harvest fungi quite safely. Not so in Britain I'm afraid!!


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