Interview on Real Herbalism Radio

Thank you all for your patience as I have not posted much lately.  Who knew having a toddler would monopolize my time?  I have been busy though working with Occupy Medical as an Herbal Team Clinician, meeting with clients one on one, and further pursuing my herbal education.  The following is a fun project with Real Herbalism Radio on the Practical Herbalist blog/webpage – an amazing resource of herbal knowledge.  Sue, Candace, and Patrick spent a rainy afternoon recording the following interview with me.  Thanks guys!  Please click on the image to take you to the interview!





Interview with Rebecca Lerner author of “Dandelion Hunter”


I am so excited to present this interview with my friend and fellow forager Rebecca Lerner. This last Spring Rebecca published her first book called Dandelion Hunter.

Lerner’s publishing debut recounts her adventurous forays about the life of an urban forager. The story will take readers first hand into the challenges and successes of connecting into our urban wilderness through the eyes of a modern gatherer.

Rebecca Lerner has perfected her excellent and personal writing style that engages with humor and raw honesty. I laughed out loud countless times and through her experiences I know how humbled she is about the natural world and our wondrous world of plants.

Rebecca gave me permission to ask further questions about her book and her reasons for writing it:

What inspired you to write a book about foraging?
I wanted to write an entertaining true story that would be inspiring and provocative, and that would make use of my skills as a journalist at the same time, and my experience over the past five years as a forager had plenty of good material. Because of my urban foraging blog, I was actually getting book offers from publishers before I even had any intention to write one. It happened that I was in an MFA program for creative nonfiction writing at the time, too, so it seemed that the Universe was conspiring to make this happen. I knew that there were foraging cookbooks out there, and plenty of field guides, and a memoir or two, and I wanted to do something different, something colorful and philosophical that could, hopefully, change ideas about our place in nature for the better.

Dandelion Hunter covers a wide range of information from ethical harvesting, exploding slugs, to the archaeological record. What do you want your readers to take away from your book?
I hope that Dandelion Hunter inspires readers to view plants as the key to a magical and fascinating multi-dimensional world with a tremendous history and an exciting future. I find that foraging has the power to catalyze a consciousness shift that inspires respect for plants, demonstrates nature’s utility and a way of enjoying that while being in balance with it, and even elevates nonhuman beings to the level of person. I hope it gives the world an even stronger reason to protect the wilderness and expand it, and to clean up our cities.

A large percentage of your audience may be experienced foragers themselves – will Dandelion Hunter cater to those people?
This book has something for everyone. Beginning foragers and herbalists will learn a ton from the botanical info woven through this book, and more experienced plant folks will enjoy the stories, the characters, the research, and the interesting perspectives on display. I asked the expert foragers Sam Thayer and Fergus Drennan to check it out, and they both loved it, as did herbalist Matthew Wood. Fergus actually suggested that it can be read as a feminist perspective on survivalism, which is a really cool idea.

Readers may be concerned about urban pollution. How do you address this?

Urban pollution is a legitimate concern, and one of the reasons I love teaching folks about urban foraging is because it shows us the abundance we could have access to if we took better care of our land. I think the more of us urban wildcrafters there are, the stronger an argument we can make for banning lawn chemicals and pesticides and remediating the soil. In the meantime, I’ve learned through looking at urban agriculture research that the reproductive parts of plants — the fruit and nuts — tend to be safest from contaminants, and that the biggest risk comes from touching the soil more so than from what plants absorb from it, at least in terms of heavy metals.

Do you advocate that everyone harvest wild food and medicine?

I think wild harvesting is a really special way to get in touch nature, and especially with the primal part of ourselves that feels a strong spiritual connection to Earth. I find it to be a tremendously healing experience, and I hope everyone gets to feel that. Here is where sustainability concerns inevitably pop up. Most of us, myself included, don’t have the time to forage our diets full time, and it would be a stress on our land if everyone attempted to do that all at once, but it would be great if we expanded the wilderness and brought more of it into our cities and towns so that more of us have access to wild crafting and wild harvesting our food, whether as a hobby or as sustenance.

To purchase Becky’s book you may follow the link: Dandelion Hunter

I highly recommend reading her blog as well!

Rebecca Lerner

Rebecca Lerner

Harvesting Belt and Stinging Nettle Outing

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A couple weekends ago my husband Matt, my apprentice Fox, my co-worker Miriam and I went on our first Nettle harvest of the year. The crop was young and the plants were no more than five inches tall. This particular stand of Nettles I had not visited for several years and was curious to see if I could spot any changes to the health of the stand. Since only about 30% of the colony has even sprouted I found it difficult to judge. However, I could still see many of last years dead stalks which was an indicator as to how dense, tall, and spread out the plants have grown.

I explained to my apprentice how best to caretake this particular plant so that it will still thrive in the seasons to come. I showed her how I like to clip just above the second or third node from the top so that within a few weeks it will re-sprout another (or maybe even two) new tops. 2013-03-02 11.12.11

Harvesting Stinging Nettle that day was also an excuse for me to try out my newly designed harvesting belt. It isn’t very fancy, simply a carpenter’s belt found at Goodwill with a carpenter’s pouch still attached. On the left side of the belt I chose to attach my Mora knife and on the right my hand clippers.
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The leather pouch is useful for the smaller objects that I like to carry around when I am harvesting and IDing plants. So far it holds:

Botany kit: (loupe, probe, six inch ruler, razor knife)
Leather gloves
Feral Botanicals First Aid Stick Salve
Sharpie and Notebook
Several tincture bottles depending on my needs
Plastic bags
My keys

Soon I hope to add a Hori Hori knife to my belt once I get a nice one.
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I was impressed with the ease of using the belt that day. I could easily reach behind me to grab something and my clipper holster was always right there for easy grabbing.

In conclusion – I loved it! I am sure there will be improvements in the future but for now it’s juuuuuust right.

Now I will leave you with a picture of a premature baby goat named Whiskey.

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