Friday, September 14, 2012

Geek Kids: Edible Wild Plants

This is a repost from a blog I used to write about edible wild plants.  I was just going to borrow images from it this morning, but since the kids are still foraging for sheep sorrel two years later, I figured it would be worth posting the whole thing.


Fall has brought on a bout of wild plant enthusiasm. I just found out about and ordered Samuel Thayer's DVD on edible wild plant foraging (ha, guess that's one documentary off my to-do list!). I was watching it this past Saturday, and then went out to clean up the garden a bit. I was looking at a plant growing all over the place with very distinctly spearhead-shaped leaves, and I realized that had definitely been in the video I was watching.

Didn't take long to find the segment about Sheep Sorrel, Rumex acetosella. Apparently I made it through childhood never knowing about this one (cheeseweed was my childhood weed of choice). I was so excited, I plucked a few leaves and one by one, accosted the family to try it.

Husband: "Uh, no, not right now, thanks."
Maddy, 5 years old: "I don't want to!" Me: "Oh, come on!" Her: "OK..." She took a nibble and dropped the leaf into her water. I told her that was a good idea, she could make lemonade that way, and she beamed.
Colin, 3 years old, tried one. Then asked for another, and the remaining few I had in my hand.

Colin is five now and the sheep sorrel is still growing next to the garden, and when we get home from school, he is still going over there every now and then and picking it.

There are many reasons that foraging for wild plants would be a good thing for kids to do, and sheep sorrel is a good option because it's so easy to identify.  There are so many teaching opportunities here, including valuable discussion about how some plants will make you sick or are poisonous, and how plants on the side of the road should not be eaten and why.  It's also one of the few consistent geeky nature type things I can do to balance all the electronic ones.

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