Know your place

I step out, dodge rain showers, and am struck by the high river level. It’s so high that the area where I usually sit, elevated from the river, is submerged.

This observation leads me to reflect on the term “climate breakdown.” I now prefer it over “climate change.” It conveys the seriousness of our environmental situation.

I’m currently living in a rented property near the river. I observe rising waters overtaking my neighbour’s garden.

I can’t help but think about the potential changes over the next decade. This concern contrasts with my sweetheart’s desire to own a house.

It highlights the personal impacts of environmental changes. Where will we live?

As a forager, I’ve noticed the direct impact of these changes on plant life. Understanding one’s local environment connects to the practice of foraging.

It involves identifying plant communities and understanding their relationship with their habitat. Yet, the rising waters have submerged areas.

Wild garlic once thrived there. Now, it is covered in silt and challenging to clean, and this has forced me to travel about 40 minutes to find clean wild garlic.

This experience underlines a broader principle in foraging. It’s about conserving energy and using resources. Resources refer to personal energy, not the plants themselves.

I emphasise respecting the natural world instead of viewing it through an extractive, colonial lens.

Rather than the cultural worldview that humans have dominion over nature. My way aligns more with Buddhist perspectives. They value all species equally.

For those interested in foraging, I recommend starting with the abundant species in your area—for example, nettles, dandelions, and wild garlic. 

Lesser celandine is also a good choice at this time of year. See my plant profile on it: 

However, climate breakdown makes the availability of these plants unpredictable. I have a monthly foraging calendar of what’s in season here:

In conclusion, as we start the new year, I encourage aspiring foragers to list the top 10 plants they want to find. Only focus on plentiful plants.

Then, get outside and map them. Never harvest continually from a single plant community. Instead, rotate your gathering. So, map as many locations of a specific plant as possible.

This practice fosters a deeper connection with nature. It also highlights the urgent need to address the ongoing climate breakdown.

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