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What got you all interested in wild edibles?  RSS feed

 
                            
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Just thought I'd start another thread here so we can get some discussions going.....

Personally my family was not very adventurous about wild food or camping, so the first food I can remember collecting with them were of course blackberries. The patch nearest to our house out in Enumclaw was not Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) but was Evergreen Blackberry (R. laciniatus). So it was an early puzzle to me why -our- wild blackberries were different from the other blackberries that had the large leaves and green stems, or the native ones in the woods. On our property next to an anthill of red-headed ants was a Thimbleberry (R. parviflorus) bush, and I remember eating those too and liking them a lot (the berries, not the ants, just in case I lost you there!), with approval from my mom I believe. Mom told me Oregon Grape berries were poisonous though, incorrect but I would have defoliated her ornamental Mahonias if I had not thought that at 5 years old.

The neighborhood kids also would eat Red Huckleberries (Vaccinum parvifolium) and Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) so I tried those growing up. to go to school.
We sucked the nectar from Orange Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) flowers found in the woods twining up the Red Alders, and from Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)blossoms. There was a Cascara tree that I knew of that fascinated me, it had an area of stripped bark that someone harvested to sell for medicine or use themselves, who knows.  I don't remember trying Salal berries until much later, and mushrooms were feared, though we all knew of a pasture nearby that supposedly had liberty caps that older kids would occasionally get caught looking for. 

Parents and kids agreed the white berries that grew by the bus stop were poisonous though, so no one tried them...apparently that is not true. We did pick copious amounts of Symphoricarpos albus to put on the asphalt every morning for the bus to drive over because we called Snowberry 'Popberry', since it gave a loud pop when bursting. Often we were just running them over with bike tires or jumping on them with our school shoes as we waited. Hey, this is a rural culture being documented....

I was interested in learning herbaceous plants and weeds....but I don't recall trying to eat them until past the age of 20. In the fields near my house I knew Ox Eye Daisy, Buttercup, Field Mustard, Tansy Ragwort, Queen Anne's Lace, Mullen, Bull Thistle, Foxglove, Fireweed, Bracken Ferns, Sword Ferns, Trilliums, Bleeding Hearts, Rushes, Canary Orchard Grass and of course Stinging Nettles. I remember collecting Chicory in bloom to try to identify it...and how quickly the flowers wilted!

Okay, someone else's turn.....
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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The beginning .... 

I wouldn't be surprised if we all started with blackberries.

I remember eating lots of a small, red berry that grows like weeds around here.  I remember never asking if they were edible, but eating them anyway.  I remember picking hundreds of them once, taking them home and having my mom throw them away because they might be poisonous.  I'm still not sure what those berries are.  I've asked a few people, but got only wild guesses as answers.



 
Marilyn Queiroz
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Wild strawberries, wild raspberries in the field across the street from the house my Grandfather built when I was a kid. Wild mushrooms at my girlfriend's house when I was in college. Reading stories of people surviving on wild edibles.
 
                                    
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Appalachian relatives, my grandfather and Euell Gibbons.  I've been a forager/wildcrafter ever since.  Jack McQuarrie's book "Wildcrafting" was interesting later. 

BTW, for those interested there is a group on yahoo called "forageahead" that contains many knowledgeable folks, authors, etc.  Can't go wrong for the price of free.
 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
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I've been interested in wild edibles since I was a kid--probably a combination of my first out of state trip, to Maine with family, and learning that the blue berries my dad was picking along the trail were not poisonous, they really were like the blueberries I thought came from the grocery store (only lots better!); plus reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean George and wanting to be Sam. I read a lot of wilderness skills books for awhile. After awhile I told myself it wasn't a practical idea and put it out of my head, for the most part--but it seems more practical every day, especially now that it's started providing me with treats and even the occasional meal!
 
                    
Posts: 63
Location: N.W. Arkansas
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Mulberries!
They fall on the ground, a kid tries one, yum... and looks up.  And that is how I became a very good tree climber.
During mulberry season, my folks knew where to find me, and that bath time was futile, the stains had to wear off.

Then black walnuts, and pecans, oh and the native crab apples, and wild plums.  Finally, during a hunting season my dad brought in a pocket full of wild grapes, and persimmons.  Finally, the day came that I found a blackberry, almost as good as mulberry, but more pain to get.

As an adult, I have sampled many more wild fruits, like Pawpaws and wild strawberries, but mulberries are still number 1 for me!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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well my grandfather was a trapper and he took his children out and showed them how to forage for food all the time they were growing up..so they taught us when we were  small..not on the level that they had as children.

i remember stories of them going camping in the UP of Michigan for weeks on end gathering foragables and selling them for money to live on.

i was taught not only hunting and fishing but foraging when i was very small..before i could walk (i was in a body cast till i was 3 1/2) I remember my dad carrying me into cranberry bogs and blueberry swamps to forage for them..we also foraged for seeds, nuts, berries and mushrooms and sold pinecones to the dnr for $.

when i was married our garden area (when we moved in it was abandoned) was full of lambsquarters, which we ate fresh and canned in place of spinach..wonderful..i LOVE spinach anyway..we pick a lot of foragables in our own lawn and gardens but we still love to walk through the woods in the spring picking mushrooms, wintergreen and fiddle head ferns as well as wild asparagus and wild strawberries in early months..gives you something to look forward to all winter long.

i have some great books identifying what foods are edlbe
 
                        
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I have been interested in wild foods as long as I can remember because I grew up in the Northern Michigan woods.

http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/feature-articles/3864-food-forest-example-northern-michigan-forest.html

As an adult I moved across the country and back again-- rarely staying in a place more than 2 years.  For me, learning about a new area is learning about its plants and the local ecology.

Later I became an anthropologist (archeologist) and it was always my job to reconstruct the food habits from the food remains that we found in our excavations.  And to reconstruct the habitat and territories which would have been home to the people were were studying.

For me, I am never home, until I know the plants that grew there, what will grow there, and what the local geology and ecology is like.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Northern Michigan Woods..that's my backyard..i love it here..i've often said they could offer me a million or two for my home and land and I would turn it down..I never want to leave..sure we have some cold and unsettled weather..but who doesn't love walking around gathering mushrooms, huckleberries, etc..and just enjoying the wildlife..

still a lot of unspoiled land around but harder to find all the time
 
                        
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Brenda:  I went to school in the UP at Michigan College of Mining and Technology -- Its no longer called that.  There were no facilities for girls so we had to stay with local people and work for our room and board.

At Santa Maria I lived with a couple across from the campus.  I stayed through the summer and looked after their kids.  They had a sloop -- named the Stormy Petrel -- it was my first sailing experience.  We sailed Lake Superior which is quite shallow in some places.  They would drop anchor off shore and I would spend the afternoon diving for mussels on the lake bottom.

Later at San Diego  I met the Oma Pearl divers.  And I realized I could dive for pearls if they would let me!  They wouldn't.  The Japanese pearl divers are especially trained and only allowed to work in San Diego for a few months before they return to Japan for deep diving.

So I never got to dive for pearls, but I always though I would find a mussel one day with a big fat pearl in it.  I never found the pearl -- but Im sure its still there.
 
Delilah Gill
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Georgia
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While mostly growing up on a farm in southern GA where we all worked in the fields raising tobacco, our neighbor "Granny O'Berry" would let me go off with her into the swamps and river bottoms to harvest things she needed to make medicines and for food. I'd rather go with her than work tobacco any old time. As a kid, we moved around a lot, so I learned the plants in different locations from the coast to the mountains of GA.
I moved around a lot with my career later and learned many plant communities.
It's one of the things I love about plants, you never know it all and there's always something new to learn.
 
                    
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long hikes with no food.

I liked to go out for 2-3 weeks with just a few oz of salt and some fishing line, knife.

summer. berry season.

small fish. lots of greens. mushies. bugs.

the way of herbs by michael tierra was my fist herbal tome.
then i picked up some survival primers and some wildfoods books...but I was too busy hiking and eating greens and fish to read them.
 
                          
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I guess the concept of "free food"  has always been attractive to me......

I'm the same way about bean feeds, church suppers, weddings, and so on.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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Wow, I need to hang out in this forum!  I'm still new to the permie forums and exploring. 

I grew up at the base of the Rocky Mtns, remember going to the hills to pick huckleberries in the fall.  My mouth still waters at the memory of mom's fried pies.  My cousins and I would force down gooseberries from their bushes, even roasted some grasshoppers in a mason jar and ate the legs!!  Kind of tasted like bacon, or so we told ourselves.  Wild plums when we visited relatives in Oklahoma were great.  We had fruit trees so lots to pick right off the trees.

Now I'm in the middle of Kansas farm ground, so it's Lambsquarter, dandelion.  I'm definitely not above grazing!  Hard wheat and soybeans right off the plants were disappointing.  We do have a mulberry tree that I graze from when I remember to walk back there.  I was told that white mullberries are excellent.

I don't know anyone who grazes around here, so plant identification is 'iffy' at best.  I am going to try daylilly next year.  I do believe that whenever possible, use what nature gives you.  I, too, like the idea of free food, and anything to suppliment the garden and be more self sufficient.
 
                                    
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I think it was my grandmother, mostly. I've been eating wild foods since before I can remember. I have foraged in OR, AK, and NH mostly, but also in anyplace I traveled my first thoughts were to identify the plants around me, which usually involved knowing if not trying out which ones were edible. Berries are at the very top of my list, followed by nuts and greens. I am hesitant to meddle much with mushrooms outside the ones I know well - which are numerous, as I used to go out with my step-grandfather as a kid picking 'shrooms wild to sell commercially. We'd get gallons of chantarelles...

Euell Gibbons was/is a huge hero of mine. I still own all his books, although as a kid I was often disappointed that his East-coast favorites didn't grow in my West coast stomping grounds. One of the things I've learned over the years is that even if you can eat something doesn't mean you will WANT to.

I still rely on wild plants in our meals for three seasons. Greens, berries, and more abound on my father's 14 acre fallow farm. Even at this time of the year, looking under the snow, I could pull strawberry leaves for tea (high in vitamin C). I highly recommend that if you want to forage, find an old local that can help, in addition to several good books. The breadth of knowledge is far better than relying on only one source.

This summer I made my first go at urban foraging, discovering a huge amount of wild grapes in the run-down railroad area behind my office. I made the best grape jelly anyone I know had ever tasted from those blueberry-sized grapes. I look forward to being able to try it again next summer!
 
                          
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Maybe it was this................

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKym33vK1cs
 
Haru Yasumi
Posts: 102
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My parents always just taught me that you have to know what you're doing to pick things from the wild and eat them, implying that we didn't know any better so shouldn't mess around with it.  I've always been fascinated though, and finding food has always seemed like a connection to the basic human condition on earth that our ancestors necessarily survived on before the modern industrial system that I grew up with.  What really got me started eating wild foods was my interest in mushroom cultivation coupled with a move from Phoenix and LA to Oregon.  All of a sudden there were easy things to spot growing all around like chanterelles, blackberries, huckleberries, and I was delighted that even a lot of people who aren't specifically into nature here can recognize some berries.

I'd have to say my interest was always present - it's just that I was never taught any information asides from my own personal reading.  I do remember, however, my first experience with plant medicine was when I got a bad burn while I was very young and my grandmother chopped an aloe vera plant from the front yard.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I grew up eating sourgrass (Oxalis oregana), red huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium) and blackberries (R. procerus), but went to Evergreen as a computer geek... got into sociology... then native american studies... read Erna Gunther's ethnobotany, harvested cedar bark, and started studying botany and gardening.. so a more intellectual start, with the traditional Cascadian roots.
 
                        
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Location: Berkeley,CA
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In a word....Miners Lettuce.....ok two words

As a kid in northern CA I had two creeks running near my house and the banks were covered in miners lettuce in the spring.  It was one of the first things my father showed me on a hike along the creek and I was hooked.  It was a good place to start because it's easy to identify, pick and NOM NOM NOM.

Blackberries, like most others here it seems, were one of my first foraging loves which also grew/grow rampantly along the creeks here.  As I got older I remember eating elderberry, native grape, foraging for wild onion and dandelion.  It's interesting to think about how our ancestors, or someones ancestors,  cultivated these plants or similar ones into most of the food plants that we know and love today.  Bravo
 
                              
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Location: Ohio zone 4-5
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Wild strawberries as a small child. It was amazing that this stuff was just outside in random areas. Later I read every book on wild edibles and learned to ID nearly all native plants in my area. Funny how the desire to learn one thing leads to another.

I took my knowledge to the Appalachian Trail as a 4 state through- hiker to test my limits, solo with only my dog. I badly misjudged the availability of wild edibles on the trail. I began my northward hike in Pennsylvania in early April, but up in the mountains it was early March conditions, so I found little. As I continued going north I also continued in perpetual early March! There was also the possibility that the trail was pretty picked over by past hikers with the same idea.
 
Rebecca Dane
Posts: 211
Location: Missoula Montana
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This forum...lol.  Actually I have always been interested in learning about native wild plants as edibles and medicinal uses for home and wildcrafting.  I once did a report for a class I was taking on native american medicinal herbs.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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I grew up picking raspberries with my sister in my mother's garden, picking walnuts, hazelnuts and currents. Picking blueberries, wild strawberries and mushrooms on our island in Finland where we have a summer estate (errr, we call it that way. In fact it's a log hut).
My mother was always picking stuff and telling us its name and properties. If it's edible or poisonous. I never realized it until now: I grew up wild harvesting stuff! Yey!
 
            
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Living as a child on my grandparent's farm, I found that the best bass and catfish holes were where the mulberry trees overhung the river.  We picked those, blackberries, wild plums as well as poke weed from his lands and garden.  Later on, my parents and us kids would travel to Ouray, Colorado where we would pick chokecherries to make into juice and jelly.  I used to pick asperigus that grew wild on the bank of the irrigation ditch where we lived in northern New Mexico.
 
                                
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Location: SE Texas
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My interest started by just spending a lot of time outside as a kid in Wyoming. My friends and I would go walking through the woods, just goofing off and exploring. We would drink from a spring that we found, and eat 'buffalo berries' (not sure if there's another name for them, that's what the adults called them). When I got a little older and started going fishing in the backwoods by myself, I experienced that 'philosophical enlightenment' that everyone gets once they spend enough time outdoors. I realized, "Hey, this fish is free meat, you don't have to go to the store or McDonald's for something to eat." From there, it became an interest of mine to see how many essentials of life could be provided by nature, free of charge. My mom bought me 'Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival' when I was about eleven, and I still have it to this day, complete with missing cover and dogearred pages.
 
                  
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Hello! I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and we had this one glorious park called Heritage Park. At 15 I decided to take my Petersons field guide out and see if I could find some edible plants. I still remember the feeling of excitement at doing something that felt really rebellious (in a different way than being in the principals office -as I was often!). There was a keen sense of freedom and independence that I contacted in that park. That I could make my own medicines and forage for my own foods!

This was the spark that led me to work for various state parks, organic farms, arborists, tree breeders and nurserys. All this perspective allowed me to dive into plants from many angles. I am now an Ethnobotanist and survival skills instructor. That moment of understanding when I was a youth had lead to a career connection people with plants and the earth. I am grateful.
 
Nacho Collado
Posts: 42
Location: Granada City (that's in the south of Spain)
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I like nature and survival, so 1st reason is cause there is a lot of food and resources  in the nature
2nd reason is cause once you can identify plants and trees and know how to use them, you feel at home even if it's the first time you walk into that place... May be you don't know where you are, but you can see everywhere old friends you know well. Same comfort feelings about the constellations in the night sky.
 
                  
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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Okay to me wild edibles not only mean plants but also animals such as fish and wild game as they go hand in hand as does collection locations. What got me interested in wild edibles is quite simply my father was a hunter and fisherman along with my mother really enjoying fishing. Of course he was also a loving father and I was in the woods as soon as I could walk and on the water (at least on the bank) before then so he could spend time with me as otherwise he worked long hours. The difference between my father and the other hunters is he rarely passed up a chance to collect non-meat edibles after the hunt or while on the way to and from the fishing hole. I recall picking blackberries, grapes, collecting nuts (I later learned while the trees while they appeared wild they were part of an old plantation and planted many many years ago), and gathering a few wild greens such as polk weed, dandelion and such. Back then we lived in a neighborhood on a large lot even so mom always had a small garden and we had a large pecan tree. At the age of 6 1/2 we moved out to what was then the country and suddenly I had 100 acres 3/4 wooded to call home. It was there while walking down the road I was introduced to things such as wild blueberries and persimmons. By age 8 I was given my first shotgun and turned loose to roam and I spent many hours concentrating on bring home wild game (mostly squirrels and rabbits) as well as learning the land, running some crayfish traps in the creek, finding many a fat lighter stump (this was like gold because I could sell it), digging wild onions (great for wild game stews), chewing on sourweed, learning where the wild grapes, persimmons (love them) and any other free food especially the sweet ones were. One time I even found a recently fallen tree with a beehive in it and after wrapping some wedding netting (mom used to make extra money decorating churches) around my straw fishing hat and getting some gloves collected honeycomb. This is how I spent my years growing up until I went to college, met my wife, had kids and generally had much more responsibility and less time to spend roaming. I never thought of it as foraging or gathering but rather simply roaming the woods the gathering was just a side to having fun. I still retained a love for hunting and especially fishing and was quick to take advantage of other wild edibles if the opportunity arose (one time when my girls were about 7 and 8 we pigged out on wild grapes at a rest stop along the interstate while people looked at us like we were homeless or something) but I never had the time to spend the day roaming/gathering as there was always a commitment or something to do with the kids. Now that I am older and retired I want to get back into the roaming I did as a kid but I no longer have the energy nor flexibility (bending over a lot leads to soreness much less arthritis) I once did but thats okay as long as nature provides free food and I can collect some of it along the way I will continue doing it.
 
Peony Jay
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
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My family is European and dad insisted on doing weird family-oriented things like mushroom hunting rather than watching TV.

We picked wild mushrooms (that dad expertly identified), picked wild strawberries, chokecherries, huckleberries, rose hips, dandelions (for dad's appalling wine) and fiddleheads.

I think I cleared all the crayfish from a local lake back in my youth. My sister and I would go out knee deep and hand pick those slow moving things.

Dear old dad taught us fishing too.
 
wayne stephen
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I grew up in Boston suburb , in 1970 I was prepared to run away into the woods after reading "My Side of the Mountain " . Then Euell Gibbons. As a teenager in the Sonoran Desert - Desert / Wilderness Survival was a passion. Organic foods and Back to the Earth type thinking . Now I have small herb farm and before I chop and drop I think " Did You ever eat a pine tree , some parts are edible ".
 
chris cromeens
Posts: 63
Location: north texas 7b now 8a
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My grandmother was a wealth of botanical info or the science of plants. My great grandmother taught me about the nature of plants. Between the to finding food in the woods has been pretty much natural for me.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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wayne stephen wrote:I was prepared to run away into the woods after reading "My Side of the Mountain " . Then Euell Gibbons.


A kindred spirit!

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Free food and independance! That's my motivation. If I can find and recognize free wild foods I am less dependant on the factory food machine and the money to buy it.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22170
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Skeeter's picks on wild edibles books

nature's garden

the forager's harvest

(clicking on these books and actually buying them (and anything else) gives me a kickback!)



skeeter-wild-edibles-books.jpg
[Thumbnail for skeeter-wild-edibles-books.jpg]
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I'll have to see if he has any 'I love skeeter' stickers. I love this guy!! I really want to take a course from him - he seems to have a great personality and I have learned something from every single video of his.
 
Charles Kelm
Posts: 171
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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When I heard the podcast extolling Skeeter's encyclopedic knowledge, I immediately wondered if he would have any book recommendations. Now this. Thank you!
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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paul wheaton wrote:The beginning .... 

I wouldn't be surprised if we all started with blackberries.

I remember eating lots of a small, red berry that grows like weeds around here.  I remember never asking if they were edible, but eating them anyway.  I remember picking hundreds of them once, taking them home and having my mom throw them away because they might be poisonous.  I'm still not sure what those berries are.  I've asked a few people, but got only wild guesses as answers.






There was what appeared to be an impenetrable mass of blackberries on a vacant lot in my neighborhood when I was a kid.
We crawled underneath through narrow tunnels and ate large quantities and the adults had no idea where we had gone until
we showed up with just a little residual damage to the white t-shirts and the bare arms and legs.

 
Peta Schroder
Posts: 62
Location: Australia
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I discovered a love for herbalism when I started a naturopathy course age 29. Now a few years in I've done a bit of pounding the pavement collecting weeds and finding out what they are. I am particularly into wild greens and LOVE nettles, amaranth and fat hen. I've more than once had people ask me what I'm planning to do with that big bunch of weeds. When I tell them I eat them they are shocked. Last time the guy who asked got all excited but then said with dismay that all he had in his neighborhood was caltrap (four corner jack). When I told him it is actually called tribulus terrestris and I harvest that for medicinal use his eyes nearly popped out of his head!! I really love knowing that I can create a delicious Horta meal from weeds I collect in my travels and I can make my own medicines too
 
Michael Glasgow
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I was raised in the Alaska back woods, and killing animals lost its appeal, when I discovered berries and mushroom's.
And progressed to wild greens, fiddleheads and Devil-club tips as well as nettles Yummm!
Now I teach how to harvest and dry for later use the eatable and medicinal's from our local areas.
Come to Homer Alaska and experiance a walkabout w/ a lifelong bushman and wildcrafter: M. Glasgow @ 907-299-3603 (eves)
And we'll have a great journey and experiance of a lifetime camping-out and forageing for some of the best vegetables on the planet.
I can also be reached at : alaska1spoonguy@yahoo.com, and if your already here, Just ask for Spoonguy! Everyone knows me!
 
Melba Corbett
Posts: 164
Location: North Carolina
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When I was a small child I watched my Grandmother dig wild blackberry roots and simmer them all day in a huge pot and give it to my uncle for his dysentery the doctors could not cure. She cured him in a few days. Wish I could remember exactly how she administered it. I do know she gave him the tea, but don't know if it was fasting from all other foods or not.

We also gathered wild plums until a bull chased us out of the pasture. Grandmother told me to walk slowly and stay behind her but I could not and bolted and ran. I was about four years old, wearing a red polka dotted organza dress and cleared a high barbed wire fence without even ripping my frilly dress. She found me hiding under the bed and I would not come out for a long time.

Lots of sourweed and blackberries as a child growing up. However, it wasn't until I studied Naturopathic Medicine that I really got into the medicine making part. We're surrounded by Nature's Pantry and God's Green Pharmacy all over this blessed earth! I'm so awestruck seeing all these wonderful plants and how they grow.

Now I use that knowledge to treat the farm animals (cows, pony, goats, chickens, dog, cat), myself and family, and eat a lot from the wild. Dandelions, lamb's quarters, stinging nettle, purslane, plantain, rose hips, all the berries, berry leaf tea, cleavers, wild lettuce, black walnut, hazlenuts, acorns, and much more grow within easy reach.
I'm teaching classes on wild edible & medicinal plants and have a DVD on Wild Edibles out. Just love it! Living on the land on an all organic farm, and every moment is sheer ecstasy. Don't need tv, its such a kick to watch the animals interplay with each other.

Melba Heartsong12@frontier.com
 
alex Keenan
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My interest in wild edibles started when I was a boy in Homer Alaska.
The day i found I could pick berries and sell them to Alaska wild berry products I was a big fan of wild edibles
 
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