Frolic: Tiny Foragers in Training

I love sharing the world of wild edibles with people and it is pretty rewarding when I see the joy in the faces of adults shoving mulberries into their mouths – high on that feeling of being told some (no-so) hidden secret and now seeing a whole new bountiful world before them. However, some time at home with my family this summer had me enthusiastically showing berries, flowers and wild greens-a-plenty to my nieces and nephews who’s initial reaction was: “yeuchhhhhhk!”

Aside from a slightly bruised ego, I was intrigued that these tiny humans (seven and five) would follow me to any end, but they were not interested in eating anything I picked off a bush. I was determined to get them interested in wild edibles and find a way to make it stick.

Burdock proved to be pretty entertaining…

My nephew Porter and I got into the habit of a daily walk to the field near the train-tracks at the end of his street, seeking some quiet from his two younger siblings we were free to frolic around and adventure as we pleased. It didn’t take long before I let Porter in on the secret that we were foraging. His five-year-old response, of course, was: 
“what is foraging? Can’t we just rukus?”

Off we went!
Some things he spotted (with some assistance) and identified in a flat, “Aunty-Becky-I-know-that-already” kind of voice…

(duh) apples
(sigh) grapes, (umm) berries

Others prompted more discussion based on a ‘funny’ smell or odd demeanor…
‘Octopus flower!’ (or Wild Bergamot)
There was no shortage of tasty plants around us so I tried everything and anything to see if I could hook him, even with apples he was more interested in eating potential worms living inside.

“This apple is a worm house!”
So feeling defeated, I relinquished and let him just be a little boy.

Smash, smash!!


Finally it was time for a rest, we sat near a bush of Nepeta which was humming with bumblebees. As we watched the busy bees, Porter turned to me and said “they’re foraging like us!” and my heart melted. Tiny taste-buds might not be so keen to complicated flavours from plants like Monarda, fistulosa but children still love adventure, a good frolic outside and spending time with people they love – even their crazy, plant-loving Aunty Becky.

Porter especially enjoyed the part where he got to harvest the wild garlic which we took home to put on our pizza that night for dinner, when he told his Dad we ‘foraged it’ my brother-in-law looked at me and asked:
 “what’s foraging? I thought you were just rukusing”

What do the tiny people in your life find to eat outside?


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