All this to say, I think I know what wildcrafting is, but then I was asked to write this blog entry and now I’m second guessing myself. Wildcrafting isn’t a real word. It’s not in any dictionary. A general definition, were there one, might say something like, “gathering wild plants in the mountains for use as food, medicine, or pleasure.”
It’s for us, for humans. I think that’s the crucial part of the definition. Squirrels gather acorns, but that’s not wildcrafting. We have more separation from nature than any creature “in nature,” we live in cities and houses and often think of ourselves as living outside of nature. To state the obvious, the materials for our houses and iphones and espresso machines don’t come from another planet. They come from here, from our communal home, earth.
But wildcrafting isn’t just about gathering things from nature and using them for our benefit. I think what distinguishes wildcrafting from all other kinds of making stuff is that that the raw materials are gathered in more pristine, wilderness type places. There’s also an element of engaging with nature on a more animalistic, primitive level. It’s going back to our old monkey ways, using simple raw materials found along the trail—plants, mushrooms, dirt—to make things for ourselves, things we can eat, taste, enjoy. I think of it as a kind of shorthand for primitive skills.