Slow and Intentional, A Celebration of Wild Natural Foods

By Lauren Haynes, Spring 2016

Lauren Haynes is a skilled and studied herbalist, specializing in handmade medicine from the woods and fields of Tennessee. She extends this homage to the ephemeral wild edibles found in the woods and bi-ways that surround us, and invites you to learn more for yourself.


As an herbalist and wild foods enthusiast, I keep a keen eye and ear on the forests, for the dancing song of plant life cycles has quite an upbeat tempo. I grab my woven harvesting basket and am reminded how deeply entrenched in traditions and craft we are, no matter how busy or removed from the bucolic lifestyle we find ourselves.

Consider the humble gathering basket. Made itself of weedy vines woven into place, it is a reminder that plants provide clothing, food, and shelter. We rely on them much as we do our friends. As we embrace local foods and the slow food movement, we mustn’t forget that one of the most sacred acts of nourishment includes the mindful and intentional gathering of foods.

Many foods surround us; in the woods, and even in our backyards. These wild and free foods nourish us in a multitude of ways. In addition to their densely-packed nutrition, foraged foods feed our primal craving for connection to the earth and to our ancestral heritage.

This connectivity includes seasonal shifts. With the dawn of spring, our bodies naturally begin craving a lighter diet, rich in crunchy greens. Springtime edibles are loaded with nutrients high in chlorophyll and minerals - especially calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. They are also packed with vitamins – particularly of the C, A, and B complex. In order not to miss out on the earliest spring nourishment, stretch your well-rested winter limbs, pick up a gathering basket, and get out into the forest!

Find a reliable field guide or an interpretive plant walk to attend, and deepen your relationship with our wild local foods.

Visit for more information to learn more.


Suggested Reading:

  • Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson, Peterson Field Guides (1977)
  • Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants by Steven Foster and James A. Duke (1990)
  • Handbook of Edible Weeds by James A. Duke (1992)
  • PDR For Herbal Medicines, First Edition by Medical Economics Company (1998)

Upcoming Regional Plant Walks:

Medicinal Plants of Tennessee

Saturday, April 23

St. Mary’s Convent, Sewanee, TN

Advanced registration is required with St. Mary’s Convent. (

Medicine Making 101

Saturday, May 7

1:30p- 3:00p

Wildwood Harvest (19494 Highway 11, Wildwood, GA 30757 Wildwood, Ga)

Healing with Flowers

Saturday, May 14


Wildwood Harvest (19494 Highway 11, Wildwood, GA 30757 Wildwood, Ga)