"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Lazy Afternoon Spent Gathering Wild Edibles With My Favorite Grandson


It's one thing to force your will upon crops in a garden, provide them with the best possible environment in which to grow and see pretty good results, but gathering wild native edibles is a whole other challenge. It involves a lot of wandering, searching, patience, and of course lots of luck. At first anyway, after awhile you not only have the knowledge of where certain plants are to be found but get a certain feel for where they "should" be located.

I spent the other day foraging with my grandson, teaching him about various edible plants. We gathered wild asparagus and even found a few onions. He was so excited to find the first asparagus, he always (I let him... shh) finds the first ones whether it be asparagus, morels, or some other edible delicacy. The boy can now readily identify, and properly pronounce over
fourteen edible and a few poisonous wild plants, not bad for a four year old (almost five). Will any of this knowledge be of use to him later in life, I have no idea, but it certainly won't hurt.


Flowering wild onions.



Picking asparagus using a two handed approach.


I showed him how to wrap the package using strands of grass so that it would be easier to carry... "Um , that's really great Gramps, now what do I do with it? It's kind of heavy you know."


"Here you carry it."

A young master woodsmen proudly displaying his wares. Actually at this point he was quite bored with the whole venture and wanted to look for bugs under the rocks.


If my only accomplishment in this world is to have imparted some "remembered" knowledge upon this child then I will have lived a full and productive life.

19 comments:

randi said...

wow, you are one cool person!

Silke said...

That's a wonderful thing you are doing for your grandson! He'll benefit from this in so many ways that are beyond just being able to identify plants in the wild. :) Silke
P.S. He's really cute!

Stefaneener said...

Great to go out gathering with a teammate.

He's very cute.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I think it is so great that you take your grandson out and teach him such valuable skills. I wish someone had done that for me, I'm 24 and wouldn't have any idea where to find wild edibles, nor would I trust myself that they weren't poisonous. I never knew until recently the abundance of wild food out there.

Your grandson is adorable too by thy way.

Matron said...

There is something primal and very satisfying about grubbing around for wild food! I'm not sure I could forage enough for a decent meal - but you look like you have a good feed there! Bon appetite!

Mr. H said...

Thanks Randi,

Your pretty cool yourself. I think your weather has come our way. It's cool and rainy, the slugs will be delighted.

Mr. H said...

Silke,

I hope so, we are really trying to give him a head start, not only in the garden but in all areas of education.

Mr. H said...

Stefaneener,

The lad is definitely a good hunting partner.. keeps us on our toes. He was a bit puffed up from some sort of grass pollen allergy in the pictures but still seemed to have a good time.

Mr. H said...

Jennifer,

It really is amazing how much wild food is available once you start looking.

The trick is to learn everything possible about one wild edible before moving on to another... before long a person can confidently forage for a whole selection of edible plants.

Thanks for visiting,

Mike

Mr. H said...

Matron,

Tracking down wild edibles is one of the things I enjoy the most. We are very fortunate to live in an area that provides us the opportunity to do so.

Frugilegus said...

Some of my most precious memories are the happy days I spent as a four or five year old tramping around the woods with my grandfather - being taught all the names for the things we discovered. One ritual was to find the bell that got away - in English bluebell woods you can normally find one lone whitebell if you look hard enough in the carpets of blue. It took me ages to realise that perhaps I was allowed to always 'find' the first one! So I'm sure your grandson is storing up lots of useful knowledge - and fantastic memories!

Mr. H said...

Frugilegus,

I hope you are right and he does remember some of these things later in life. It's so funny to watch him offer different salad greens to guests in the garden. He knows most of the plants names and loves to "teach" unknowing/unwilling adults how healthy his favorite plants are.

Thank you for visiting our sight.

Mike

howlingduckranch said...

That's a great thing to do with your grandson. My friend Clarence has his Great Grandson (one of several) here in the valley and he spends lots of time with him teaching him things (not that he always listens or is interested). They will appreciate it later in life; I was lucky enough to have grandparents into my twenties, thirties and now in my fourties, I still have one Grandmother alive. I have fantastic, cherished memories of spending time with my grandparents.

On the wild asparagus note, have you read "Stalking the Wild Asparagus"? You'd like it if you haven't. Second, where do you find wild asparagus (what should I be looking for, do you think it grows on the west coast of BC)?

Mr. H said...

HDR,

I spent years searching for wild asparagus and first stumbled upon it last summer growing along a river bank in amongst the rocks and sand. This spring we went back and saw that it was under many feet of water as the river had yet to recede from spring runoff. As soon as the water was gone the asparagus came up.

I would look along sandy stream and river banks or even farther up on coastline beaches. It seems, from reading, that most of what grows wild in North Idaho also thrives throughout Canada.

Check out -

http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/
foraging/asparagus.php

for a better understanding its habitat.

I have that Euell Gibbons book but have not read it yet, can you believe that? In the winter I like to "stalk" used book stores and usually end up with a huge reading backlog. My other hobby is reading, mostly old, books.

The Gingerbread House said...

Mr. H. when two of my grands were spending the day I decided to show them how to make noodles..they were about 6 or 7.. It stuck in ones mind who is now 20 something and has her own noodle machine..I thought teaching them was for naught.but I was reminded of that day many times since. You will be reminded of the lessons you think your grand weary of....

Mr. H. said...

Ginny - Thank you.:)

Anonymous said...

Hi, just wondering is this the 'real' wild asparagus or the ornithogalum pyrenaicum? Because I bought seeds of the latter, and they are sprouting... but I'm wondering what I should do next... plant them in the garden already or leave them inside for a few more weeks. The sprouts look very very fragile...

Mr. H. said...

Anonymous - It is real asparagus and not ornithogalum pyrenaicum but either way both plants grown from seed are indeed pretty fragile little things once sprouted and should be babied a bit inside until all danger of frost and nasty weather is over before planting out. Best of luck with them.:)

Patent Attorney said...

What a wonderful story, I certainly think this is the sort of thing a four year old would remember for many years to come!

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