WILDCRAFTING: GETTING TO THE ROOT OF OUR ETHOS

Botany & Wildcrafting Course by Herbal Academy

We use the terms “wildcrafted” and “wild-harvested” when describing products. Specifically, this term refers to the aromatics – the essential oil scent blends that transport you to another place, another time and bring the mountains into your home.

Wildcrafting is not some trendy thing. In fact, humans have been wildcrafting since we could walk. The term, however, is new to our industry and to the vocabulary of consumers. Let’s explore what wildcrafting means to us.

Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting things in the wild for our use. Whether that comes in the form of decorative art (think bones, branches, grasses), wild foods (think mushrooms, berries, nuts), medicinal herbs, or aromatics, wildcrafting is done for pleasure, necessity and tradition by some peoples and to our great benefit.

In our case, we harvest aromatic ingredients to scent our bath, body and home products. Wildcrafting helps us absorb the beauty of nature and react to our instincts — we naturally crave more of whatever smells so damn good and we naturally protect what we come to love by direct engagement.

Wildcrafting allows us to create products that are unique and authentic to the regions they come from. There’s no shortage of products out there meant to evoke some exotic locale – most of them use cloying, toxic, artificial perfumes. Wildcrafting is the real deal; not bullshit ingredients manufactured in a lab to smell like the mountains. Wildcrafting is the mountains.

It’s in our Nature

Wildcrafting is, perhaps, the most primitive thing we can do as humans. To say we have no business wild harvesting is to deny our genetic heritage and our membership as biological creatures on this planet. Our earliest ancestors did it every day. Nature was their local market and using all five senses was a daily tactic of survival. Those traits haven’t disappeared as we’ve evolved; they are still a part of our makeup today.

It is our intention to create products using real ingredients that hail from these treasured places. It is our intention to bring you back in touch with those senses that so clearly define who we are as human beings.

How is Wildcrafting Done Sustainably?

Wildcrafting is a privilege, not our right. Therefore, we must uphold the utmost respect and reverence for these wild places we love so deeply. We have a strict set of guidelines that have shaped our wildcrafting practices for over twenty years.

We always check ourselves against the following standards:

  •     We only harvest in places where that species is abundant.
  •     We only remove less than 1% of the stand.
  •     We avoid the heart of a species’ range and stay on the outer edges of a crop.
  •     We do not harm the larger ecosystem.
  •     We do not cause damage to plants but harvest in ways that ensure their long-term viability.

The simple principle being: you’ve got to think very carefully when you’re pulling whole plants out of the ground.

Unlike medicinal herb harvesters (who rely heavily on roots), we don’t remove whole plants. Whole plants aren’t necessary for aromatics. In order for the plant to regenerate, we focus on the upper portions: leaves, flowers, bark, and resin. Our work is primarily pruning, which is beneficial to a plant’s or tree’s lifespan and does not compromise the larger ecosystem.

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In fact, most of the plants we use (shrubs in the mint family, sage, salvias, wooly blue curls, desert lavender) have adapted to being munched on. These plants have actually evolved to respond well to reasonable pruning with vigorous new growth. We choose our ingredients wisely, like Conifers which tend to grow tall and robust. It’s easy to harvest these sustainably when you’re simply trimming from the bottom boughs of 100 ft. tall trees.

Where do you Harvest?

We’d like to clarify something about the lands we harvest in. While we are harvesting wild plants in their natural habitats, we are never taking plants from truly wild places.

Wilderness, in America, is a legally defined entity. It means places have been set aside for protection and long-term preservation. We never harvest in such places. It’s not legal and, regardless of legality, it’s not up to our standards. We stick to roaded or trailed places and work closely, and with permission from, managing parties like the Forest Service and private landowners.

There is a perceptible difference when a person encounters a wildcrafted product. The senses awaken, the mind swirls. Natural ingredients are easier on our bodies, especially those ingredients that make products smell good. Next time you pick up a bottle of soap, or massage oil or essential oil, consider where those ingredients came from and consider where they can take you.

Learn how to wildcraft and identify plants confidently in the Botany & Wildcrafting Course!

You can discover the science of botanical identification and the art of wildcrafting through this captivating voyage into wild edible and herbal botanicals! After completing this class, you will see nature through an entirely new lens!

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