Backyard Foraging with Kids
By Kristen Smith - June 16, 2014
I don't precisely remember when I became fascinated with foraging for wild plants, but when I did, I was excited to share my new interested with my children. Now when they go outside, it's rare that I don't find them munching on a favorite plant at least once! I am far from a foraging expert, so I've taught them to identify a handful of very safe and easily recognizable plants that grow wild in our backyard. While we still have a garden and buy fruits and veggies at the market, there's just something exciting about using plants that grows wild! Foraging has given my children an opportunity to learn about and connect with nature. They are beginning to recognize that God has provided us with so many useful plants right under our noses. All of their senses get involved when we forage as they feel, examine, taste, and smell the plants, and their ears become in-tune with the quiet song of nature around them. They learn that dandelions are very nutritious and the flowers fun to munch. What child doesn't love coloring the sidewalk with dandelion flowers, too? They discover that the chickweed which grows abundantly around our finished compost is a mild-tasting green that is also soothing to the skin. If my children are bitten or stung by an insect outside, they know that bruised plantain leaves will offer relief. I like plantain so much that I also pay them to gather the leaves for me to make my favorite healing salve! The furry leaves of lamb's quarters are not only soft to touch, they taste much like spinach! Greens always go down better when they are found wild outside instead of on a plate. By far, my children's favorite plant to forage for is sorrel. Part of our yard is completely covered with wild sorrel, and they eat the arrow-shaped leaves and pucker up from the tartness. The neighbors may wonder what got into the children grazing next door, but I know that they are enjoying some of God's wild foods!