All crafters have a cache of special tools—and foragers are no exception. I’ve been gathering food and medicine from wild places for nearly three decades and these are my tried-and-true tools of choice. As a bonus, every single one pulls double duty in the garden and around the yard.
It’s easy to become captivated by wild food and medicine. There’s a vitality to wild plants that is unsurpassed, and a nutrient load that is astonishing. More truly though, it’s connection that enamors us—a link to the natural cycles and sustenance of the earth, including a realization that a generous supply of nourishment and healing is springing up all around us.
If you’ve ever felt frustrated trying to choose a reliable field guide to take foraging with you, you’re not alone. There are heaps of books on the subject, and the selection can be dizzying. It’s truly important—you might even say a matter of life and death—to make solid choices in this department. To give you a hand, we cozied up in the Chestnut library and got studious, reviewing all the regional wild food and medicine books we could get our hands on, and checking each one for botanical accuracy and attention to detail. The best are queued up here, and there’s a little something for everyone, from bright-eyed beginners to seasoned foragers and plant enthusiasts.
In the spirit of cold-season stockpiles and cozy reading nooks everywhere, we’ve gathered a list of our most cherished books on wild food and herb foraging. Plenty of fantastic field guides and wild food books didn’t make it into this post. We don’t receive any compensation for promoting the books in our list—they are simply our personal favorites. We’ve included links to purchase directly from the author, when applicable, but you can find almost all of these books online or order them through your local bookstore. Note that some of these books cover medicinal and edible uses, whereas some cover only wild foods.
We herbalists have a unique take on the commonest of herbs: instead of dismissing them as mundane or maddening, we choose to embrace wily botanicals with enchantment and enterprise. These medicinal and edible weeds—vulgar villains to most—are the herbalists’ beloveds. This alchemical perspective, transforming the unplanned and uninvited into a veritable treasure, is a handy approach in life that needn’t be limited to weeds.
Are you ready to grow your own herbs? We’ve compiled a list of brilliant books that will help you start your herb garden, medicinal farm, or permaculture paradise.
Herbal Tea Ceremonies are a delightful way to find beauty in the everyday. By slowing down and getting to better know our plant allies, we can simultaneously open up to heartfelt connection with ourselves and/or others. Making the time and space to hold your own personal herbal tea ceremony—or with a friend, your family, or a group—is a low-impact, simple act of pleasure that can lift the vibe of any day!
Whether it’s e-books or a bookshelf in your home, having your own herb library is a valuable resource. Turn to trusted book and blog authors, but be wary of random information on the internet. Kathi Keville has selected some of her favorite beginning herbal medicine books to entice your herbal journey.
Can you believe that you have the ability to turn garbage into beautiful soil? Well, with the help of millions of microorganisms, you can turn your waste into an incredibly useful material. Composting can be a magical art of transforming garbage into black gold. How sweet is that? Being a soil-builder instead of a landfill-contributor is righteous work for the times! Be a Green Magician! Both your herbs and the earth will thank you.
Attempting to garden without the right tools is a set-up for struggle and frustration. In this article, you’ll get acquainted with the essential gardening tools that can do what your hands alone cannot (cut through wood, carry water, haul large loads, dig through rocky soil).