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Foraging in the Forest


A bouquet of branches, leaves, ferns, pine needles, pine cones, and turkey feathers

Our farm is adjacent to acres of woods that I get to walk through everyday. In fact, I access the farm by walking through the woods, often multiple times a day. This forest provides me with many elements that I use in bouquets and arrangements. A forest is a microclimate unto itself and has so many treasures that I utilize by foraging for them.


A word about foraging. To forage is to go from place to place searching for things that you can eat or use (1). In this case, foraging means that I am looking for flowers or foliage in the forest or fields around the farm that I can use in bouquets and arrangements.


There is important etiquette to follow when you head out to find flowers and foliage.

  • Know local, state, and federal laws about foraging.

  • Do not harvest from private property. Always ask permission before entering and foraging on private property.

  • Correctly identify the plant that you want to harvest. You do this so that you know that the plant is not harmful to you and so that you know that the plant is not invasive. You also need to know what you are looking at so that you do not harvest endangered plants.

  • Do not harvest invasive plants. By harvesting invasive plants and using them in fresh or dried arrangements, you are contributing to the spread of seeds.

  • Remove the least amount of flowers or foliage necessary, certainly no more than 1/3 of the plant or of what is available.

When you forage, be aware of areas along roadways or in fields that may have been sprayed with pesticides.


A view through the fall woods

Below are some of my favorite elements to forage from the woods around the farm.


Turkey feathers!

Ferns

Virginia Creeper

Branches with fall leaves

Branches with spring leaves

Rhododendron branches

Mountain Laurel

Forsythia

Doghobble

Pine needles

Pine cones

Sourwood leaves and blossoms


Ferns with fall leaves all around and in them

There are so many treasures to be found in the woods. Make sure to forage responsibly and to know what you are harvesting.

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