Forest Etiquette and Foraging Safety Tips for Nature Loving Families

·    My children and I like to leave a gift in exchange for a plant’s medicine – gifts aren’t solely physical in our way of thinking so a song or even a simple heartfelt thank you or compliment counts. We tell the plant what we’ll be using what we’ve gathered for. To children this makes perfect sense.


·    Look for places where what you are harvesting is abundant. Leave two-thirds of the plant material there so it can continue to flourish and there is plenty for the animals.


·    Harvest the different parts of the plant at the best time – i.e. leaves in the Spring, flowers and berries in the Summer, roots in the Fall/Winter.


·    Be aware that pulling a plant’s roots kills it – not a concern with harvesting Dandelion but keep it in mind for other plants.


·    Forage in areas that have had no pesticide use and are a bit in from a main trail. Plants alongside a major roadway has car pollution to deal with and isn’t a healthy choice. We are fortunate in Canmore to have many great places to forage.


·    Safety Tip: Be sure to let your child know that not all wild plants and berries are good for people to eat and to only eat the ones an adult or teacher has said are o.k. If they are unsure they can just ask.


·    Safety Tip: The first time you try a new edible wild plant it is wise to not go overboard – try just a bit. Even though the plants and preparations shared in this book have an excellent safety record, very low allergy potential and have been in use for generations, starting small is a good habit to get into in general in the rare case you or your child have an allergic reaction. Please don’t let the thought of a possible allergy stop you from foraging - mainly I just need to mention it in the writing of a book like this so you are aware of the possibility. You’re building relationships to these plants so enjoy the steps of the process and start slow and mindful.



Sceptres & Staying Centered - Simple, and very Usable Winter Creation For Forest Loving Families

What's keeping you centered these days? What helps you feel even an inkling of inner calm - your go to if you're feeling overwhelmed to bring you back? 
I love to walk outside in the woods to clear my mind and discern the important things from the not (seem to get clumped altogether at certain times of year more than others) but with the ice it's been a fair bit of woah waw eek ah … and then finally … I have to admit some pretty cool dance moves have emerged trying to stay upright while walking but has it been relaxing ... not so much! These sceptres/staffs have helped me enjoy a more peaceful walk. (-:

Last weekend I was with 10 star children for a Winter Fairy Camp. It was an honour and absolute joy to be with these nature/fairy loving children. The second morning there was a note that revealed that Fairy Queen had a winter gift for us - we later found wooden staffs/sceptres - with just 1 moonbeam threaded ribbon  tied at the top of each to help us find them - all through the nearby forest - up in trees even - we found the one that fit us best and later decorated these further with nature/herbal treasures. Some sceptres were crowned with a piece of the giant geode the Queen had gifted us with that we worked together to break open and that was just the beginning - the children's imagination and creativity and crafting was wonder full -  adding a bell here, wolf willow berries there, sprig of spruce, grasses, etc. as they made each their own. 
It was glorious to see the group of them trekking through the snow and ice with their sceptre … it made me appreciate the images of St. Nicholas carrying a staff -- this was a practical thing to help him on his way...

I share this as an invitation for you to take a breath (right now) with me and to to tune into what's keeping you grounded and centered and feeling your strength - I guess I'm wondering what is the nature of the sceptre you want to carry inwardly through these next particularly exciting weeks? A long slow exhale with peace written all over it, a feeling of gratitude, spaciousness, warmth, playfulness, some lightheartedness/humour, presence, curiousity, wonder, a mantra? 

And is there anything that you need mama externally (think simple) that you can set as a priority for yourself - a gift to you - to place in your week/space that will support this inward intention? Daily enjoying cup of tea sitting down, daily walk in nature, bath and book break, karaoke machine, 5 min. meditation before bed, get out for a yoga class/a massage? What is it for you ... that would be yummy? No 'have-to' here - just know how important you and plan to nourish you! (-:

The second reason I am sharing this with you is because it was such a hit for the boys and the girls at the Fairy Camp and  I know that sometimes during the holidays having a fun, simple forest activity for the family to get everyone outside moving is just what is needed --- who knows, maybe the Fairy Queen has them hidden for you in the forest like she did for us - and (who knows) maybe you find a little burnt edged note on your door and that starts your little adventure ... whatever the case - here you have the idea in your back pocket -  find stick that fits,  spend time in nature gathering and decorating this and then (best part) use it for your winter hiking/walking sojourns… happy trails families! 

Another Free Superfood - Time to Harvest Raspberry Leaf Tea!

The berries are ripe for enjoying and I take this time to collect some of the nutritious leaves.  Picking the leaves before the plant flowers is best but anytime is good. If you are drying them for later use spread them out so they dry well and don’t get moldy.
Harvesting the raspberry leaves are something less people know about but worth it. Many women may remember drinking raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy – 1 cup per trimester. The leaves are rich in calcium, iron and other minerals and can be used by all members of the family. It doesn’t taste like much (tea and grass to be precise!) - the dried leaves can be steeped in cold water for a less tea flavor and hot water to bring more of the tannins and tea flavor out. If you’re growing some Mint or Lemonbalm this makes a great combo. A Summer favorite is adding a fruity tea, some fresh lemon and some honey to the raspberry leaf tea and chilling it for a refreshing mock-iced tea. Ahhh...


Superfoods in Our Backyard - Bears Know What's Good for Them!


Introducing the Buffalo Berry (AKA Soopalallie, Soap Berry)
The bears are really enjoying theses bright red oval shaped, sort of translucent looking berries. End of July is when they are ripe and they are right on time. Right off the bat I will tell you that they do not taste as sweet and scrumptious as they look - they are bitter and super healthy!
This shrub is very hardy and First Nations in many parts of Canada have used this berry as a source of nutrition preparing it in various ways. It is now in the Superfood category and you will start seeing it on the grocery store and health food shelves more. 
The berry really packs a serious nutritional hit being rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, iron and lycopene (immune boosting component found in tomatoes). It is soft so if you are collecting some place something underneath the bush to catch the falling berries and shake the branches.
We made “Indian ice cream” with the berries during my undergrad Plant Ecology degree at SFU where for one project I was researching medicinal and edible First Nations plants on the West Coast. Basically to make the “icecream” we added sugar to the berries and whipped them up – it turned a beautiful pink and was super bitter - probably just needed to add more sugar! Be adventurous and treat your family to Superfood right from its source …

How lucky are we! (-: