Wildcrafting, What is it?
Wildcrafting is a modern term for an ancient practice. For as long as humanity has existed, we have gathered from the natural world for our food, shelter, medicine, clothing, ritual items, arts, and much more. Wildcrafting today refers to gathering materials from the land that you will use for various purposes, most frequently food or medicine, crafts, household items, natural building, carpentry, ritual items, clothing, and more. I often see the term associated with medicinal herbs, but there are many other possibilities for the wildcrafter. Non-food uses of wildcrafted items that I’ve covered include wildcrafted medicines such as jewel-weed salve or various medicinal tinctures, smudge sticks, inks, baskets, and incense.
Our little farm sits on the verdant slopes of the Olympic Mountains in Washington state. This places us near the watery and nutritious termperate Hoh Rainforest, the arid sandscape of the dungeness peninsula, and the alpine forests of the high interior mountains. Each contains ever so many subtle microclimates which hold a great many different medicinal plants and herbs. With over 65 different plants cultivated or wildcrafted on our farm – we view it as our responsibility to ethically harvest wild herbs and plants to help steward their continued survival. This means selective harvesting: the process of rotating between plant cache’s every season, as well as only collecting 1/3 of plant material. Doing so increases the availble genetic pool, helping plant popullations protect themselves from climate and disease.
Having a good ethically compass will keep your wildcrafted plants and herbs returning to you year after year. But where to find them? It took the Sativa Valley family 20 years living in the Olympic Mountains to discover and experiment with all of the native material. But never fear – those starting out in the trade should pick-up a few regional herbal & medicinal plant guides to better understand the nuances of when and where their target plants grow. Then, it’s as simple as locating the ideal region, strapping on a pair of strong boots, collecting a few simple harvesting tools, a sturdy bag or container – and set out to find your botanical treasures!
Stay tuned for a variety of different ways to process your favorite found plants & herbs into powerful extracts!