Berry season is almost upon us. You could go to your local supermarket and pick up a pint of blueberries. Or you could pick them yourself. Foraging for berries is a wonderful solo, couple’s and even family activity. Reconnecting with nature, breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sunshine and enjoying a sweet berry reward are some of the benefits of foraging. Unlike our ancestors who were dependent on hunting and gathering for basic survival, today people have the luxury of foraging simply for fun. But before you lace up your shoes and grab a basket, you may need a few pointers. At Workman’s Friend, we love to forage for all sorts of berries. Yet, we researched and compiled the following list, so that we and hopefully you could make the most of the experience.
Know before you eat wild berries
Exercise caution when eating the berries you’ve collected. Though colorful fruit might look extremely appetizing, do the research or ask someone that is knowledgeable about what grows in your area before you nibble up a few berries. Remember some plants and berries are extremely toxic.
Instead of casting a wide net and collecting every berry in sight, start small. Learn about a select few types of berries, where and when they grow as well as how to recognize them. Consider what is growing within a 10 mile radius of your home. That will allow you to study and become a local expert.
Equip Yourself Before You Start Foraging
Like any new sport or hobby you need to make sure that you’ve got the right equipment and tools before you begin. Foraging is the same. You’ll need gloves to protect your hands from needles and poisonous leaves such as elderberry. Though you can pick the berries from the branches using your hands, scissors will come in handy as you cut mulberry branches or raspberry canes to access the berries. You may feel a little like red-riding hood while carrying your basket, but it is one of the best ways to store the berries you collect. Make sure you’re basket is sturdy not one used only for decoration. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat and long sleeves. All of these items will help protect you from the sun, but the long sleeves will prevent your arms from getting scratched by needles and branches.
Safety First When Picking Berries
Perhaps it’s a given but it’s worth mentioning, safety is key when foraging for berries. That means if you see berries along the side of a busy highway, don’t pick them. Let the birds have those ones. Be aware of no trespassing or private property signs, and wire fences. It’s important to respect these boundaries and not put yourself in danger for the sake of a few berries. Also, as you forage be aware of dogs, cows, horses or any wild animals. You might be trespassing on what they consider their territory and they may attack if they feel threatened.
Get out there
The best way to start foraging berries is to get out there and start collecting. Yes, follow the tips and suggestions listed above, but getting outside is the best way to start. You may be motivated by a desire to find fresh and local food or by the fact that what you find is instantly edible and free. When done correctly, foraging is a safe and sustainable activity. Get out there and start picking!
Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is a light-weight and odorless hand cream perfect for foragers of all types of berries. A simple application of our heavy-duty formula will keep your hands moisturized while you work. Then when it’s time to get those berry stains off of your hands, a simple wipe and you’re clean. Check out our barrier skin cream products here.