Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thoughts on Urban Foraging

The unpacking continues, but we're getting there, and I'm quickly falling in love with the space and the neighbourhood.  The ADG put weather stripping around the doors, I borrowed an air purifier and we've added plants, with more being donated by friends to come!  These measure have greatly improved the air quality in the apartment and I only notice the smoke mixed with air 'freshener' in the stairwells, which is a huge relief for me.  I've since met the woman who smokes, and she's very nice.  She loves plants and maintains the little garden out front of the building.  I'm sure we'll have lots in common to chat about.

Once the space is set up I'll get around to posting some pictures, but that will have to wait until some time next week because we're getting the living room painted.  When I told the property manager that I would pay the extra cost for low VOC paint, he looked at me and said, "Well I don't really believe in that kind of stuff, but I'll do it for you."  What with the paint request and asking about smoking in the building, I'm probably well on my way to cementing my reputation with him as the 'crazy lady in apartment 5'!

My Jane's Walk on Sunday was really well attended and I enjoyed leading the group through the park, introducing them to fiddleheads, Virginia waterleaf, violets, wintercress, garlic mustard, nettles and more!  I've got more weed walks planned for the rest of the summer and people are slowly starting to register for them.  One of my favourite things about doing the weed walks is witnessing the moment when an urban environment with nameless green stuff that gets ignored suddenly transforms into an ecological system where food and medicine can be found and where humans, plants and animals coexist.

So I was delighted to read this interview with urban forager Nance Klehm whose reflections on foraging really resonate with me.  I like how she answered when asked why she shares her experience of foraging with others:

"Well, to create a sense of wonderment with people and [spread the knowledge] that we share this environment. It’s humans’ plus everyone else, from the invisible to the large. When I teach it I am not just staying put this in your mouth, I talk about how it got there. Is it ethical? Whether it is something that has escaped a garden. It’s awareness and a sort of magical aspect I try to expose people to, to get them away from the TV set."  

And when asked to give advice to people who'd like to try foraging she says, "You are in a relationship with these plants, so practice ethics."  Which is basically just what I said to my group on Sunday and reflects something I read recently by Rosemary Gladstar:  "If we choose to use plants as medicine, we then become accountable for the health of the wild gardens. We begin a co-creative partnership with the plants, giving back what we receive -- health, nourishment, beauty and protection. We have reached a time in history when ignoring this relationship with the resources we use would be disastrous." 

I just had to pop in and share those lovely thoughts!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Hi Amber,
Where would one be able to register for a weed walk?