The Honourable Harvest
Where a plant grows wild, is the place that plant choses to grow rather than where it was sowed, and tends to be a place that it thrives. Often times this is the most potent form of that plant’s medicine; wild herbal medicine. But how can we harvest and forage wild plants in a way that is good and right?
First Nations people all over the world have been listening to plants and collecting medicine in a way that it can continue to sustain them. Here are some of the governing principles of the Honourable Harvest according to Robin Kimmerer, a Potawatomi woman, botanist and author of the profound read Braiding Sweet Grass.
Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Take only what you need and leave some for others.
Use everything that you take.
Take only that which is given to you.
Share it, as the Earth has shared with you.
Reciprocate the gift.
Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever.
These guidelines are bound by the tenets of reciprocity. That is to give when we receive, and to share the abundance around. Principles of reciprocity have been important regulators to First Nation’s people keeping in check our own individual desires towards greed, and keeping us humble.
Imagine a modern world where reciprocity were at the heart of our values. Would it not look very very different!
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