Harvesting Wild Food
We gratefully acknowledge that we live, play, and gather so much inspiration and nourishment from the Traditional Unceded Territory of the K'ómoks First Nation, Homalco, We Wai Kum, Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, ɬaʔamɩn gɩǰɛ (Tla’amin), We Wai Kai, and Liǧʷiłdax̌ʷ. We acknowledge the actions these nations has taken and continues to do as stewards and caretakers of these land and waters. This knowledge informs how we interact with this land we call home, we try our best to walk mindfully upon their territory.
For more information on where you live, please visit the excellent resource Native Land .ca
Photo by Ocea Hill, willow basket by Willow Daughter
Spring is here, and it reminds us of the increasing bounty that can be found on the land. We have been focused on resting during winter and now it is time to go forth and pick fresh food to nourish our bodies. This spring, we pick Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) from our friends the Stonehouses propert on Hornby Island and Spruce tips (Picea sitchensis) from a family members property on Northern Vancouver Island. Both of which are included in our spring blend I am Focused.
We harvest Stinging Nettles from a 50 year old farm on Hornby owned by the Stonehouse family. Wearing gloves we move across the old horse field to the edge where the Douglas fir and alder forest stands alongside a creek. Stinging Nettle is an edge species, thriving in disturbed areas. The nettle patch is thick here, growing up to 2 feet tall mid summer.
During my visit there to harvest this spring, I spent some time thinking about the land owners of the farm, Keith and Birdie Stonehouse; both of which have now passed away. Amongst the nettles I found myself reminiscing at their legacy on Hornby Island as pioneer land owners. Hornby wouldn't be as we know it today without their recognition and ownership of Big Tribune Bay, because when they sold it they sold it under the conditions that it would never be subdivided. Now its a Provincial Park that we will all get to enjoy.
I shared the field with one old horse name Princess. As a girl I worked for Keith grooming his horses and Princess was one of the horses I got to work with who is the last horse on the property. We want to thank the Stonehouse family for their support over the years and the meaningful relationship that I have had with their farm and family.
During spring, each plant sends out dark green shoots that are coloured dark purple on the underside of each leaf. We harvest bags full of this amazing plant, making sure to leave enough to maintain a healthy population, keeping in mind the teachings of the Honourable Harvest which was taught to me from the book Braiding Sweetgrass. Braiding Sweetgrass, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, teaches the principles behind the Honourable Harvest. The following information was written by Robin Wall Kimmerer in the article "The “Honorable Harvest”: Lessons From an Indigenous Tradition of Giving Thanks" published in yesmagazine.org
"The Honorable Harvest, a practice both ancient and urgent, applies to every exchange between people and the Earth. Its protocol is not written down, but if it were, it would look something like this:
Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Take only what you need and leave some for others.
Use everything that you take.
Take only that which is given to you.
Share it, as the Earth has shared with you.
Reciprocate the gift.
Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever."