My name is Clay Bowers. I am a plant nerd living in Northern Michigan. Learning my plant and fungal neighbors has been a passion of mine since childhood, but it has only been a true obsession for about a decade now. It always just looked like a wall of undistinguishable green to me....until I started to learn who I was looking at. Now after many years I can walk through the forests and truly see, but I still have much to learn. This is a lifelong path.
Learning to forage is essentially like learning your way around a city. Eventually you learn every which way you can get to a certain place, where everything is and why there are certain associations in certain regions. The same is true for Wildcrafting. When you first go into the woods, its all the same, but after many years you start to see the associations and the "why" of things. You become a member of the forest and no longer a tourist in a place that you are foreign to. Foraging gives you a sense of belonging to your surroundings beyond the normal hikers forest connection.
When I first chose to learn edible plants it was pure and simple "survivalism". I saw impending doom in the world all around me and I wanted to make sure that I would be fed in the aftermath of an apocalypse. I made hilarious mistakes along the way and have eaten more disgusting things than most people would ever like to try. But I would not change a thing. Because, apocalypse or not, I get to spend time in the woods picking food for free.
One thing I like to say is that I never go on hikes, and that is truly because every single time I walk through the woods I do more than walk. Hiking, while definitely good for well being, creates in us this sense of the forest being an art exhibit. When I go into the woods I participate in the woods. I grok the woods. I am nature. Nature is me. I don't know that it would be possible for me to just walk through the woods.
The way of Wildcrafting will change the way you look at the world.
Proceed with caution!