When we moved to our new land, I never imagined all the free food I would find. I wasn’t really purposefully foraging for wild edibles at the time; I was more just getting familiar with my surroundings. But everywhere I looked, I saw food, FREE food!
Foraging For Wild Edibles On Our Land
We recently moved from the coast of South Carolina to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.
Moving from planting zone 8b to 6b has a completely different climate but is similar in many ways. You can read more about our journey in past newsletters.
Our homestead back at the coast had 1/4 acre of sandy soil, high temperatures for many months, extreme humidity, salt air, short winters, and we were just 11 ft. above sea level.
We now have 46 + acres of clay soil, rich humus, freshwater springs, cool nights, many microclimates, mountain air, and are 1600 ft. above sea level.
The Smokies have one of the largest biodiversities in the United States.
Meaning they have a large variety of different types of animals, plants, fungi, and other organisms.
You can read more about the Smoky Mountains biodiversity from The National Park Service.
Safety Tips For Foraging For Wild Edibles
Before anyone goes off looking for wild edibles, you should always exercise caution and safety. Always. Here are some safety tips to get you started.
- Only forage on your land
- DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND DEEM SAFE.
- Take a field guide with you to help with identification
- Learn the poisonous plants for your area
- Stay protected from wildlife
- Wear safety gear
- Only take what you need and don’t harvest all of the food
- Make sure you’re not harvesting near a roadway or other areas of chemical runoff
For more safety tips on foraging for wild edibles, see Edible Wild Food.
We Will Never Starve Foraging For Wild Edibles On Our Land
I wish I had time to share our entire journey up to this point; it really has been a complete act of faith, and I feel very blessed.
I knew God would provide for us (the faith part wasn’t always easy); I just had no idea what He had planned for our future.
We didn’t know where we would live, how much land we would get, or even if we would have a shelter to stay in, not to mention what we would eat.
As a self-employed parent, moving to a new state and leaving our job is a scary thing. I often worry about the future and if I will be able to provide for my family.
What will we eat if I can’t make money or grow a successful garden?
Then I am reminded of the verse Mathew 6:25-27
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
It is right about this time when I let worry and fear into my head that I find a new wild edible in my path.
Wild Edibles- The Bounty On Our Land
Honestly, as I write this article, I haven’t even seen half of our property, so I have no idea what other hidden treasures are out there.
Every day, every walk is a new discovery. Each time I see something we can eat (that I can positively identify), I feel a sense of joy.
Because I know that no matter what happens in the future, we will be provided with our land.
As I mentioned above, I’m just scratching the surface in discovering all of the wild edibles that I can forage for, but I believe I am off to a good start.
So far, I have found:
- Mock Strawberries
- Mulberries. I have a wonderful article about preserving Mulberries.
- Red Clover
- Polk Weed
- Not really wild edibles but we have Crayfish in the creek and they are good eatin’
In addition to the above list, we have found more wild edibles
- Hickory Nuts
- Wild Chives
- Ramps- wild plants
- Chickweed- a common weed, however, is very nutritious.
- Purple Dead Nettle is an edible weed.
- Cantrell Mushrooms
As we move through the seasons and explore our land, I’m sure more wild edibles will reveal themselves. This is just the beginning of our journey, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Why It’s Important To Know What Grows Wild
To demonstrate why it’s important to know what grows wild, lately we have experienced a shortage in the food supply due to the pandemic.
Because of this, we feel that it is vitally important to learn about what food grows locally and on our land. If we can’t grow it or forage for it, we try to buy local.
New reports have claimed that we will experience global hunger in biblical proportions. For some, growing food fast may not be an option.
In some cases, finding wild forage may be the only thing available to eat.
If you’re fortunate to live by a farm, you can inquire about gleaning their fields after their harvest to stock up on food.
You can also start your own garden with free seeds or starts.
Basically, you want to diversify your food resources by learning to forage, raise your own, and buy local.
What wild edibles do you have on your land?
Undoubtedly, some of our edible plants will only be found in North America or on the east side of the US; however, I know wild edibles grow everywhere. What edibles grow in your area that you can forage for?