Foraging in thigh high snow.

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We got over 2 feet of snow during winter storm Jonas. I spent a good deal of the morning shoveling, and still have a decent amount to go, but I decided to take a small break and do a little foraging.

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So I waded through the back yard, the snow drifted almost waist high in areas, and found a spot next to a small hackberry tree, where I knew a patch of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was growing.

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After digging through thigh high snow, I found some garlic mustard and even a little purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). Both plants are very cold tolerant.

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You certainly couldn’t survive of of these, but nothing beats some fresh edible/medicinal wild greens in the middle of winter!

Thanks for reading,

Nate

 

2016 Foraging and Rewilding Course

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Learn the basics of rewilding while diving deep into the world of plants.

Meets once a month from March through November.

Classes will be held the 3rd Saturday of each moth,

and will meet at Millport Conservancy (near Lititz, PA)

and at our cabin (near the Green Dragon in Ephrata, PA).

Each class will be 2-3 hours long starting at 1:00PM.

What will be covered?

  1. How to develop a relationship with the plants around you, including identification,

their various uses (especially as food), and how to approach plants like a hunter-gatherer-gardener.

2. Rewilding theory, including discussion of the history and meaning of the term, and it’s limitations.

3. Hunter-gatherer-gardener skills, including simple tools, traps, and hunting weapons,

as well as basic woodworking with stone and metal tools,

and improving your awareness, ability to read the landscape, and move through the environment.

4. Ecology, including how plants interact with insects, mammals, birds, fungi, and other plants.

Online Mentoring:

While the classes will be held from March – November, you will be provided support

and resources from the time you register though the end of 2016.

This will be in the form of a closed Facebook group, where we will share stories.

Registration:

Registration is due by the end of February, but the sooner you sign up

the more online support you will receive.

Register by emailing me at nathanrupley@yahoo.com (please include “Registration 2016 Course” in the subject)

and either using the Paypal button bellow, or arranging another payment option.

Cost

The cost of the course is $185 for the whole year,

but if you really cannot afford it let me know in your registration email.

Thanks,

Nathan Carlos rupley


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Purple Deadnettle in Winter.

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Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) is a plant that seems to cause a lot of confusion. Not sure if it is because it has the word “nettle” in it’s name, but it is actually in the mint family, or if it is because it can resemble several other plants. Either way, one thing that seems to confuse people is the color of the leaves. Many people notice it in spring, when it’s leaves are reddish and quite distinctive, and assume that it is only around in spring. Actually the plant emerges in the fall, with green leaves, and remains green until it is about to go to flower. Here is a shirt video I made about it.

 

Thanks,

Nate

Christmas Oyster Mushrooms!

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Had a wonderful Christmas today. Spent time with my family, got some good books on birds, tracking, and flint knapping, and also received a nice gift from the woods.

This warm rainy weather is great for winter mushrooms, so I headed out to look for some oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). I made a big loop through the woods behind the cabin we are renting, wandering here and there, climbing over and under fallen trees, and pushing my way through thorny rose bushes. I saw a ton of beautiful mushrooms of various shapes and colors, but no Oyster mushrooms. Finally, I decided to head home. Just as I reached the edge of the woods, with home in sight, I saw several large clusters growing on a downed tree. I checked them out, double checked to make sure that they were what I already knew they were, and harvested a few clusters. I could have taken about 3 times as many, but I like to harvest moderately, leaving some behind for someone or something else, or to spread spores for the future.

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Thanks for reading,

Nate

My CRAZY wild food challenge! Eating wild in November.

So I have been letting life get in the way of my foraging lately, so today I decided to challenge myself to eat at least 10 different wild plants today. Some times I think when I tell people that I am a forager they picture me as some crazy outdoorsman that crashes through the woods looking for rare plants. I do like spending time in the woods, but honestly most of the wild food I eat comes from lawns and woodland edges.

Well, I guess I set the bar too low on my challenge today, I found and ate these ten plants in ten minutes, without ever going more than 30 feet from my house. To be fair the last one is a woodland plant in an area that I scattered seed last fall. Maybe not such a CRAZY challenge after all. Edible wild plants are all around us, all we have to do is educate ourselves about how to recognize them, what parts are safe to eat, and how they need to be prepared.

So here is my challenge to you, how many of these plants do you recognize? Comment bellow!

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Thanks for reading,

Nate

Beyond the War on Invasive Species.

Photo of the cover of the book Beyond the War on Invasive Species by Tao Orion.
Beyond the War on Invasive Species by Tao Orion.


Beyond the War on Invasive Species by Tao Orion, Chelsea Green Publishing 2015.

So I have a new favorite Permaculture/rewilding book! I know this book covers a controversial issue, that tends to incite strong emotions, but I just had to review it. There have been a few authors over that last 10 or so years that have challenged the status quo view on invasive plants, and I respect them for putting their reputations on the line, but their books have maybe gone a little too far and almost glamorized invasives, and they haven’t offered many solutions. This is not that kind of book.

When I 1st got into plants, I bought strongly into the standard notion that native always equals good, and non-native always equals bad. It seemed pretty straight forward, and I could see the pattern all around me in the woods. As I was exposed to more nuanced views, I reacted like many people do, with anger. As I read more about Permaculture, I slowly warmed to the idea that weeds could play an important role in healing the disturbances that modern humans have caused, however I still held firm on my opposition to invasives in later succession or less disturbed areas. Finally a couple years ago, when I was exposed to the critique of the ties between Monsanto (and other chemical companies) and some of the larger organizations that encourage large scale chemical control of invasive species, I flipped and went to the rah rah invasives are the solution to all our problems end of the spectrum. Since then I have continued to evolve a more balanced and nuanced view, and started to develop an approach to invasives that I feel is solution based, and should work no matter what the ultimate truth is about these controversial beings.

That is where Tao Orion’s book comes in. It basically lays out everything that I was trying to figure out how to put out there, but it does so in a much more compelling manner that I would have, and it comes from someone who is not only more well read than I, but also has much more hands on experience with managing invasives. Tao got her start in the ecosystem restoration industry, but spent years using less conventional techniques on her own organic farm.

This book lays out a strong critique of the war on invasive species, but just like you don’t have to naive about the problems with drugs to be opposed to the war on drugs, the same is true for invasive species and the war that is being waged on them. Tao delves into the issues that come from viewing all ecological change as “harm”, what happens when the chemical industry and environmental groups share economic interests, the poor quality of safety testing on many herbicides, and the lack of systems thinking in our approaches to invasives. This critique is important and well laid out, but much more important is the positive vision that is put forward. While there are specific techniques offered, the main strength of this book is that it it refuses to get caught up in laying out universal solutions, and rather focuses on how to see what might be causing invasions, and whole system solutions to the problems.

My favorite section comes in the last chapter, when Tao gives an example of a Permaculture solution to an actual situation near where she lives. The example is of a park that is filled with a tall invasive grass, that is not only changing the local habitat, but also providing cover for homeless people. The park’s current strategy is to spray the grass with large amounts of herbicides, but Tao asks, what if instead the homeless people where allowed to build themselves small homes, using invasive species (including the grass) as construction materials, and allowed to live there in exchange for managing the land.

Yes, I know this scenario is not likely to be taken up in most towns in this country, but what does that say about us? What if we stopped forcing homeless people to be homeless? What if instead of declaring war on all our problems, we started living into them? What if we moved away from spraying ecosystems with industrial chemicals, and instead learned how to provide for our selves and our communities from them? What if the most abundant and competitive species were the best ones to use for food, medicine, clothing, and shelter?

I don’t know, but I am glad this book is out there reminding us to take a step back and look at our problems with new eyes.

Thanks for reading,

Nate

Update: Gathering DVD Done + More!

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Hey everyone,

It has been a long time since I posted here. I have been neglecting this site in order to work on my dvd and focus on my family.

Well, the dvd is done, I mailed a bunch out to Kickstarter supporters on Saturday, and am excited to have a little time to focus on other things!

I will announce the official release date soon as well as sharing a few more exciting projects.

Thanks,

Nate

June Plant Walk at Millport + Taking a Break.

Photo of one of the very first wild strawberries of the season.

THIS PLANT WALK WILL BE THE LAST MONTHLY WALK I DO UNTIL THE FALL.

See the end of the post for more details*

 

Saturday June 14 2014

10:00 am – 12:00 pm.
@ the Millport Conservancy.
737 E. Millport Rd.
Lititz, PA 17543

Lead by forager and plant nerd
Nathan Carlos Rupley.

We will be learning about a bunch of wild plants around this beautiful property. The main focus will be on edible wild plants, but we will also discuss various other uses including medicine, fiber, tools, basketry, and more. All of this will be covered in the context of ethical harvesting and land management techniques.

Suggested Donation of $15.

*As part of the Permaculture class I am currently taking, I am examining my teaching style and the effectiveness of my plant walks. I have decided that I need to regroup and relaunch them in the fall.

If you have attended one of my walks I would appreciate your feed back. Email me at nathanrupley@yahoo.com, and I will send you a questionaire.

Thanks,

Nate