Top Tips for Spring Foraging
Spring is knocking on our doors, and while many of us look forward to the warmer weather, for others, it’s a reminder that winter has only just begun. For those of us that love the outdoors, though, spring is a time of celebration when we begin to venture beyond our familiar backyards. Spring and summer are arguably the best seasons for foraging since trees, plants, and animals begin to sprout and bloom, and the air is filled with the enticing smells of new life.
Spring is here—the season of new beginnings and planting season. It’s also the season for foraging, and if you’re looking for something new to try this spring, you’ve come to the right place. From mushrooms to wildflowers, there are plenty of edibles to forage. And the good news is that you don’t have to go far: the best foraging spots are right in your backyard.
The 5 Top Easily Spring to Forage
- Stinging nettles – The stinging nettle plant is valued for its medicinal properties, which have been used to treat arthritis, digestive issues, and even cancer. Stinging nettle leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and the fresh or dried leaves can also be brewed as an herbal tea. The leaves of this plant contain calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
- Dandelion – Dandelions are easily identifiable, with yellow flower heads that stand out against lawns and pastures. Not only will you see the dandelion in the spring, but it can be found in your lawn and garden throughout the year, so consider foraging dandelions, too. This bitter herb has been used throughout history for medicinal purposes. It is a common ingredient in many herbal supplements, including dandelion root tea high in vitamins (A, C, and K) and minerals (iron, potassium, calcium) that are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and immune-boosting.
- Water Mint – Water mint, or Agastache officinale, is a plant with edible leaves (it has a minty flavor) and spikes (reminiscent of celery), which you can collect and forage in Spring. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia and is an easily identifiable plant. Water mint prefers sunny locations near running water, and it’s therefore found in riparian woodlands, freshwater wetlands, and along streams and rivers.
- Cleavers – Cleavers, also known as wild celery, is a relative of garden celery. It is a perennial herb that is commonly found in wooded areas, fields, and mixed forests. Spring is the best time to forage for cleavers, as its roots start to grow close to the ground in early spring. Seek them out in wooded areas or along the edge of fields.
- Garlic Mustard – Garlic mustard, or Alliaria petiolata, is a biennial herb that grows in moist woodland areas. It has three large leaves that form a rosette, surrounded by small narrow leaves (or stipules). Garlic mustard is easily identifiable, and with its strong garlic smell, it can be easily identified when foraging. Spring is the best time to forage garlic mustard.
Reasons You Should Start Foraging
Suppose you want to find ways to reduce your food budget and start foraging. Foraging, or hunting, is the practice of hunting or gathering food, and for those not familiar with it, it’s unlikely you’ve ever partaken in foraging. But foraging offers a variety of health benefits, plus it’s less expensive than purchasing food at your local grocery store, and it’s a fun activity for the whole family.
Nature is dying, and we’re all getting fatter. It’s sad but true. Foraging, the practice of harvesting wild food, could be the answer to our ecological problems. It’s not only good to eat, but it’s also good for the planet—foraging for food is a great way to become more self-sufficient and live with the environment more sustainably.
Foraging is hiking the woods in search of naturally grown food. Foraging is a great way to get outdoors for hiking trips, hunting (for rabbits, fish, etc.), or camping excursions. It’s a great way to add a little adventure to your trip. It’s also a great way to stay sharp with old food skills and techniques. Not only can you forage for food, but you can also forage for herbs, flowers, and other plants to use for medicinal purposes. Foraging can be a fun hobby, a way to get outdoors, and a great way to save money.