When Katrina Blair was eleven, she had a life-changing moment during which wild plants spoke to her, calling her to dedicate her life to championing their cause. Today, Katrina is a successful Author of The Wild Wisdom Of Weeds Book and Founder of the Turtle Lake Refuge a non-profit whose mission is to promote connection between personal health and wild foods. We caught up with Katrina to hear her story and share in her wisdom…
Wild Food For Wellbeing
- Tell us a little bit about Turtle Lake Refuge…
Turtle Lake Refuge is a non-profit whose mission is to celebrate the connection between personal health and wild lands. We have a permaculture farm with greenhouses, gardens, fruit trees and honey bees. We also have a local, wild and living foods cafe, grow microgreens year round for the public schools and restaurants and offer education on edible and medicinal plants and sustainable practices. We have a project called Bee Happy Lands where we help mitigate weeds through organic land remediation practices. We got started in 1998 serving a wild foods lunch off a three wheel bicycle to help folks feel connected to the land and through out the years have grown slowly like a turtle.
Wild Wisdom Of Weeds
- What first sparked your love of wild foods?
I feel in love with plants at age 11 when I was floating on an inflatable raft on a mountain lake. My brother and cousins all went back to shore to have lunch with our family. I keep paddling to the far bank out of site and crawled barefoot through the muck to the shore where the wild plants were beaconing me over. I sat down amongst the plants and felt totally euphoric. The plants said “ you are home and you are going to live your life with us” From that moment, I wanted to learn as much about plants as I could , so right after highschool, I decided to camp out in the woods alone and eat wild edible foods. I dove into a huge learning curve that first summer and I continue to learn more each day.
- For those of us living in the city, what are a few tips you could share that would help us to regain a connection with wild food?
“The wild weeds are some of the best wild edible foods and medicines around.“– Katrina Blair on Foraging
Sometimes they are growing right outside your doorstep or in your lawn or in a nearby field. It is fun to begin connecting with the land around you and discover how much abundance of food and medicine there is available for free nearby where you live.
- You teach sustainable living practices, permaculture and wild edible and medicinal plant classes. Are there any particular teachers or inspirational figures that you turn to for wisdom?
My three mentors are both my parents, Pat Blair for her amazing life experience in evolving beyond arthritis which started for her at age 17, Rob Blair, who opened the doors to dwell in the wild places of mountains, rocks, rivers and the outdoor adventures that go along with these places, and Dolores LaChapelle, who was a prolific author of earth wisdom and deep ecology.
- As well as founding Turtle Lake Refuge you’re also a published Author. Your recent book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world. Which are your top three weeds that we can all be foraging and eating more of? And why?
1. Dandelion because it has more calcium than milk. There is a great “chocolate milk recipes with dandelions: 1 cup of fresh dandelion greens, 1 tablespoon of tahini, 1 tablespoon of carob powder, 1 cup of water and 3 cups of carrot juice. All the ingredients are high in calcium and believe it or not, it tastes a lot like chocolate milk.
2. Mallow because it is so soothing and mellow. I love it in green juices and I love the slimy texture. It is a great beautifying plant and great for making shampoo and lotion.
3. Plantain is another one of my favourites! It is such a healer and medicine at the same time of being a food too. I go for plantain if ever I need a first aid kit.
Natural Living Advice
- Could you offer any pearls of wisdom or advice for those of us looking to live a more natural lifestyle in harmony with nature?
Yes, I recommend getting outside as often as possible. It is a wonderful morning practice to go somewhere outside and participate as the morning come in. Tune into the land nearby even if there is development, the land below is still awake and is available for connection. And of course eating from the wild garden from nearby your home is a great practice that keeps us all connected to our sense of place.
“Wild foods like pine needles are a great addition to our water and are available all year round, even in the winter.”-Katrina Blair on living in harmony with nature.
Another practice that helps us stay in tune with nature is to be a steward of the land. Protect the water, the soil and all the living organisms from harmful chemicals or toxins. Be an advocate for health of all beings.
Special thank you to Katrina For sharing her story.
The Fabulous Times