Dryland Wilds' Guidelines for Sustainable Wildcrafting

There is a recent renewed interest in wildcrafting.  We feel it is crucial that wild harvests are both respectful and restorative to the larger ecosystems they are taken from.   Here are the principles that we were taught and continue to teach others.

Cebastien with grindelia harvest

Cebastien with grindelia harvest

1. Choose locally invasive and common plants for your harvest to reduce invasive seed populations and help popularize uses for these less than loved plants.

2. Harvest with respect and restraint.  Choose prolific patches, prune weak branches, harvest 25% or less, be OK with taking nothing home, know how to best harvest specific plants (e.g. what type of pruning and when), monitor your harvest patches over the seasons and throughout the years.  For non-invasive plants, the vigor and health of your patch should improve with proper harvest.

3. Be confident of proper plant ID and removal rules.  Learn from a teacher until you are confident on your own.  Know the land you are harvesting from and follow all appropriate permitting rules.  Never consume or use a plant you are unsure about.

Comfrey in our garden plot

Comfrey in our garden plot

4. Grow local rare plants in your garden (whenever possible) instead of removing them from their wild homes.

5. Share seeds.  Collect small amounts of non-invasive wild seeds, grow them out in your garden and share the seed around to increase the plant populations and native pollinator habitat.

6. Thank the plants, the land, the rain, the Creator -- thank any and all that have provided the plants you harvest.  We like to support our harvest areas with simple brush and rock structures to collect moisture, prevent erosion and build top soil as a way to say thank you to the plants and watershed. These simple structures can be learned in watershed restoration workshops.