I’m often asked if foraging is hard to learn. “With so many plants and fungi out there will I remember them all? Could I poison myself?”
The week that you dedicate to a plant, learn everything about it – including any possible dangerous lookalikes. Pick it, press it, draw it, smell, feel, touch and taste (if edible!). Learn where it likes to grow, look for it, find it. Just sit and hang out with it!
As you learn each one you’ll find that one by one your eye improves. You start to see shape and colour, serrated or plain edges, succulence, delicacy, the feel of the square stem of those in the mint family, the dry taste of tannins. Your learning speed will start to increase. But you have to learn through being out there.
Learning from books teaches you only so much. It can never impart touch, texture, smell, taste, aura, mood. These you only learn by being there. Go out with others that know plants. Come on a foraging walk. Adopt an elder. Just take the time to hang out with each plant.
Soon the plants will start to teach you. Your eyes will start to truly see, your whole senses will start to tell you about the world around you in a way that you just don’t know right now. You will experience a sense of harmony with nature that doesn’t just find you food, but revives your spirit and lifts your heart too.
You may not believe me now but I promise that you can do this. It’s our birthright since the dawn of humankind. We’re hard-wired to be foragers in the most ancient part of our brains. Just start to be open again to that knowledge – one plant at a time.