Adventures in Wild Harvesting

McDonald Forest outside Corvallis © C. Durbecq
McDonald Forest outside Corvallis © C. Durbecq

Everyone needs hobbies, one of mine happens to be the harvesting of wild edibles.  With no real plan in mind I simply take off in whatever direction I feel like heading and find a spot to browse.  It must be public mind you, which this can be more challenging than it sounds, but once I find my spot I recognize it immediately.  It’s as if it was always there waiting for me to begin exploring and discovering its secrets.

I keep a mental tally of my special places, whose unearthing usually coincides with evening treks on trails unnumbered.  At every part of the year there is always somewhere to go and something to harvest.  In winter there are roots, bulbs, corms and rose hips, and in the fall there are mushrooms and tree fruits.  In spring and summer the bounty is great with fresh greens and shoots, berries and seeds. There are always the occasional escaped summer domestics such as rogue sunflowers, squashes, mints and artichokes.  Herbs for teas and tinctures can also be discovered all times of the year, but you must know your plants, and exactly where to look.

Jenny Ayotte and Crystal Durbecq display their wapato harvest. © H. Keirstead
Jenny Ayotte and Crystal Durbecq display their wapato harvest. © H. Keirstead

 

I am ever careful when collecting, and aware of my surroundings.  Be wary of dangers (both domestic and feral), but do not hesitate to lose yourself in the joy of gathering with your own hands, what will provide your body with essential sustenance.  One thing that I can promise you is that the act of wild harvesting will fulfill a need that you may never have known existed.

Some places that I frequently haunt include McDonald Forest outside of Corvallis, Newport to Cape Perpetua on the coastline, and Marys Peak off Hwy 34.

Wapato Salad created by Matt Bennett of Sybaris for the 2012 BSWCD Annual Meeting.
Wapato Salad created by Matt Bennett of Sybaris for the 2012 BSWCD Annual Meeting.