Now’s The Time To Harvest This Great North American Superfood!

Greetings!

I’m excited to partner with Forager’s Harvest in Bruce, Wisconsin for an evening mushroom walk on Thursday, August 9th.  We’ll explore the area in search of summer mushrooms, as well as identify mushrooms that participants bring to the program.  If you’re in the Midwest this August 9th, I’d love to meet you!  More information can be found here.

Next, let’s talk about foods that are super…

When many people think of the word “superfood,” images of expensive powders, fancy juices, and exotic herbs come to mind.

When I think of the word “superfood,” images of local plants, backyard weeds, and brambly fruits come to mind.

As nature would have it, North America (and every habitable continent!) is replete with a cornucopia of superfoods manifested as wild fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs.

The wild blueberry is one common fruit that, despite its ubiquity, is certainly a superfood in every sense of the word.  Tasty, abundant, and brimming with health-promoting compounds, its value to both humans and wildlife cannot be overstated.

I recently spent some time in the company of a few wild blueberry shrubs and decided to document the experience.  If you’re interested in learning why I recommend the wild blueberry as a regular component of the human diet (and garden!), check out the brand new video!

Have you been finding any choice edible mushrooms lately?  Here’s a list of 8 edible fungi you’re likely to encounter during the warmest weeks of the year… especially after a good rainfall!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

Adam Haritan

Friends of Forest Farming

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

As armies of amateur wildcrafters pluck Appalachian ginseng, goldenseal, and other medicinal herbs to near extinction, a coalition of universities, nonprofits, and “forest farmers” are working on a solution that will not only help preserve these wild herbs but also prevent supplement adulteration.

The Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition includes Virginia Tech, Penn State, and North Carolina State University; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and other government organizations; nonprofits like United Plant Savers and the Blue Ridge Woodland Growers; and Appalachian landowners and farmers. Together, these entities are developing a model called “forest farming” for cultivating traditionally wildcrafted herbs, including black cohosh {Actaea racemosa}, goldenseal {Hydrastis canadensis}, bloodroot {Sanguinaria canadensis}, ginseng {Panaxquinquefolius}, blue cohosh {Caulophyllum thalictroides}, stoneroot {Collinsoniacanadensis}, wild yam {Dioscorea villosa}, and wild indigo {Baptisia tinctoria}.

During…

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A Druid’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, Part II: Nature Wisdom

The Druid's Garden

One of my favorite mushrooms- the Chicken of the Woods One of my favorite mushrooms- the Chicken of the Woods

As any mushroom hunter knows, mushrooms are tricksy little buggers.  What one looks like in one setting may not necessarily be what one looks like in another, depending on soil conditions, moisture, sun, size of the mushroom, insect damage, and/or regional variation. Mushroom species can vary a lot, even from one small region to another, and that variation can spell trouble for someone who hasn’t yet gained the wisdom to understand such variation.  Mushroom books offer perhaps 1-2 photos of mushrooms, and a good book will also offer a mushroom hunter the “keys” (features that distinguish one mushroom from another, like attached gills, color, etc).  However, only lived and true experience can help you not make a dangerous mistake when it comes to the mycelium kingdom.  The difference here, I think, epitomizes two key things: the different aspects of nature…

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Pantry Profile: Basil {Ocimum basilicum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Bright green, tall, and aromatic, basil is a beauty. An ancient plant with a long history and strange folklore, its sweet, peppery flavor has been used for centuries in cuisine and medicine.

Basil is native to Africa and Southeast Asia and was eventually cultivated in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Roman scholar Pliny the Elder described basil’s {now well-known} benefits as a carminative and digestive, explaining its effectiveness in relieving flatulence, colic, and nausea. It also has a long history of use for coughs associated with colds, and the leaves were routinely used topically as an insect repellent and poultice to relieve bug bites and stings.

Much myth and legend surrounded this plant we now consider a simple culinary herb. The ancient Egyptians believed basil would entice the god Osiris to open the gates of the afterlife. In his book the English Physician Enlarged, 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper…

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Pantry Profile: Chives {Allium schoenoprasum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

With its bright green stalks and vibrant, lavender-pink and spiky blossoms, chives are a lovely ornamental plant and herb garden staple. Found fresh in the yard in summer and dried in cupboards in the cooler months of fall and winter, chives hold surprising medicinal and nutritional benefits. A member of the Amaryllidaceae family {Amaryllis}, which includes familiar alliums garlic and onions, chives have a mild and pleasant onion-garlic flavor.

Chives have played a role in medicine and protection for more than 5,000 years. The ancient Romans used chives to relieve sore throats, lower blood pressure, and increase urination, while Traditional Chinese Medicine turned to it for coughs, colds, and congestion. In the Middle Ages, it was a popular remedy for melancholy.

A traditional Romani custom was to use chives in fortune telling and to hang them in the home to ward off disease and evil influences. Planting chives in the…

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Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars: Berry Delicious! — Gather Victoria

Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars …

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You may not have heard of Mahonia berries but I know you’d love them – and they’re likely growing near you. Mahonia japonica and Mahonia bealei are both extremely common ornamental shrubs found in a wide variety of urban spaces – and in early July both are laden with deep blue dusky berries hanging in fat grape-like clusters.…

via Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars: Berry Delicious! — Gather Victoria

Remembering Who We Are: Chinese Botanical Guides

Remembering Who We Are …

Ancestral Apothecary

Bekah gets to know the plants of her grandmother’s village in Guangdong, China.

As part of our studies in the Cecemmana program, we as students are encouraged to study our ancestral medicines. We are encouraged to ask questions like: who were the healers in our families? What plant medicine did they use? What healing foods did they eat? What healing songs did they sing? In the first two years of Cecemmana, we as students researched the answers to these and other questions and then presented our findings. In my first year of Cecemmana, I looked forward to learning more about the herbal medicine practices of my Chinese heritage.

I found that before I could get to know the plants, though, I had to better understand my family. Growing up in a mixed race household in a predominantly white community, my sister and I grew up feeling disconnected from our Chinese…

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The Wild Mushroom That Tastes Like Garlic

By Adam Haritan

Greetings!

One of the best parts about being a nature enthusiast is getting to meet other nature enthusiasts around the country.  Over the next few months, I’ll be giving talks and leading walks throughout the Northeast and I’d love to meet you!  Here’s the most recent schedule of upcoming events:

July 20-21:  Shelly Conrad – Gary Lincoff 2018 Memorial Foray in Davis, WV
July 26-29:  NEMF Mushroom Foray in Geneseo, NY
August 10-12:  Mushrooms as Food & Medicine in Bruce, WI
September 7-9:  Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club — Fungus Fest in Twin Lake, MI
September 9:  Wild Edibles Walk & Mushroom Outing in Owosso, MI
September 21-23:  Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in Prairie du Chien, WI

For more information on these events, check out the Learn Your Land event calendar.

Moving forward, let’s talk about the garlic mushroom.  This edible fungus smells and tastes like garlic, and you can use it as a substitute for garlic in meals.

Strangely enough, this alliaceous mushroom hasn’t made its way into supermarkets, though fortunately it can be found growing profusely underneath coniferous and hardwood trees around the world.  Perhaps it’s even growing in your backyard.

To learn more about this marvelous little mushroom, check out the brand new video!

Speaking of marvelous species, wild orchids are at the top of the list.  This particular orchid is blooming right now, though if you’re interested in observing its flower, be prepared to get your feet wet.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

The Forager’s: Foraging for Summertime Herbs

The Forager’s: Foraging For Summertime Herbs …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Go beyond the confines of the garden and into the wild to find some of nature’s most valuable medicine.

Summer is the perfect time to stock up on nature’s healing gifts. But all too often we walk right by these treasures, not recognizing them as valuable plants. Learning how to identify and then use a variety of edible and medicinal plants in your region can open up a world of botanicals, not only providing you with access to important medicine but also helping you familiarize yourself with the wilderness that abounds.

Five Rules for Sustainable Foraging

Before you head out into the fields and forests to harvest plants, you need to know a bit about foraging ethics, as well as the dangers that certain plants can pose. In an environmentally fragile world, you want to proceed without taking from nature in ways that are harmful.

  1. Properly identify the plant

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Getting to Know Lyre-Leaf Sage

Getting to know Lyre-leaf Sage …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Having fallen into disuse, this North American species is making a comeback thanks to some notable herbalists and a nod from the Herb Society of America.

Graceful, light-blue wildflowers border the roads and cover swaths of meadows in periwinkle, from the Mid-Atlantic to Missouri and from Florida to Texas. Known as “just a roadside weed” or invasive species, lyre-leaf sage has a lengthy history. A much-valued wild edible and medicinal plant of indigenous people, and a time-honored remedy in the southern folk traditions, this North American sage has been chosen by the Herb Society of America as the Notable Native Herb of 2018.

lyre leaf sage

Lyrata in the Garden

A beautiful, wild, flowering plant, lyre-leaf sage {Salvia lyrata} is part of the Lamiaceae {mint} family along with rosemary and oregano, and it’s closely related to garden sage {Salvia officinalsi}.

The only sage native to the United States, it has reportedly grown as…

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