Linda Runyon is a wise woman who literally “lived off the trees” some years ago, during a particularly harsh winter, whilst homesteading in the US Adirondack Mountains. She taught herself how to harvest from trees and how to preserve and use their plenty. It was a matter of survival at the time so you really learned how to make the most of the trees around her. She has published several books, DVDs and plant ID cards over the years, helping countless people to live in harmony with the land. Her latest offering is an extraordinary book, full of tips and ideas for foraging from trees. The link above gives lots more info about her life and books and how to buy them directly. Mine was ordered via Amazon. I hope that I am also happily surrounded by herbs, when I reach her age.
Many of her methods are applicable to urban spaces, though she discourages foraging from trees located less than 200m from a road. She also lays out how to harvest inner bark from parts of useful trees, this is unlikely to be possible or desirable in an urban setting. Removing bark from living trees will kill them. That said, when winter gales return to Amsterdam, I’ll be happy to find a few small fallen branches to experiment with.
Inspired by this book, tomorrow I’m planning to try willow basket and edible wreath weaving with fresh withies. For dinner, I’ll try to cook up some beech leaves and twigs, Italian style. I also learned how much willow is equivalent to 2 aspirin tablets – its about 6 – 8 inches of tendril or 10-15 catkins. Overconsumption can cause unpleasant side effects.
The book is a quick read, has a study guide at the back to encourage practical learning and is packed with knowledge that is truly worth preserving.
I will never look at a Christmas tree in the same way again!
Here is a link to Linda’s foraging forum.