How to Harvest Plants with Cultural and Ecological Sensitivity

The Following is an excerpt from a book that is currently being written on this subject by Jessica Bamford in concert with Indigenous Elders from our home territory.

“It is this Beautiful Earth, Our Mother, that holds the cure to our current state of disharmony with nature, and it is our Indigenous relatives on this Earth that still have the recipe to make that medicine cure. There are ancient Sacred Laws that have been handed down for generations in how to live in right relationship with all life. These laws have been given to the inhabitants of their territories by the land itself at the dawn of human creation.  In Sinixt territory, they are called the laws of “whiplauchan” (the laws of the land) and the laws of “sum iem” (the laws of women). In other territories/cultures they will be called by different names, but they will still be there. Guiding us into right relationship with all life.

By relearning and reclaiming these laws and/or protocols and following them, we can truly learn to commune with and embrace the foods and medicines that are provided for us by mother Earth. By reclaiming our right-relationship to the land and to the first people residing there, by taking steps to healing this relationship, we will find that this insidious dis-ease that has been polluting our minds, bodies, hearts and spirits for generations begins to heal.  All of creation wants this.  All life is designed to strive for continuation of life and health, with the ability to correct imbalance, but this is not a process of self-correction.  It is a process by which all life supports each other in coming back to health.  Whether we are conscious of it or not, all life is like a honey bee hive, every individual working to sustain the well-being of the whole. And like the mycelium that carry information and nutrients between plants and trees in the forest- that will transfer more nutrients to those plants that are struggling or suffering in the forest from those that are healthy, there are unseen forces that do the same thing between all species, all life.  We are all in this together.  The animals know this, the insects know this, the birds and the fish know this.  

The plants know this. 

Do you?

They will teach us.

Will you listen?”

Here are some Protocol Basics to guide you as you harvest:

1.make an offering (a pinch of tobacco, a song, something that will nourish the plant and something that is commensurate to the gift you are asking of the plant in return ie. If you are harvesting seeds or fruit, this in and of itself can be helpful to the plant so long as you spread the seeds, but if you are asking for the roots, or to take a tree down, then in most cases the plant will require a greater offering.

2.Offer up a prayer for the green people and tell the plants what it is you plan to use them for.

3. LISTEN. Listen with your whole self; ears, eyes, nose, body, heart, spirit.

4. Be honest about what you perceive (there is no point lying as the plants will always know, plus they gossip with other plants and news travels!)

5. If you get the go-ahead, then as you harvest, continue to listen.  A plant will tell you where to harvest and how much if you pay attention.

6. Make sure that you harvest in such a way that the plant’s future propagation is supported.

7. Share your harvest with the indigenous elders in your territory!