We can’t believe it’s already July! Between firing countless arrows, going fishing and catching some almost as tall as us, starting campfires together, picking wild red huckleberries, brushing a friendly goat, and so much more, June went by too fast! Check out our favorite Summer Camp photos in the gallery below.
When Thursdays, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM | September 17, 24 & October 1, 8
Where Trackers Earth Portland | 4617 SE Milwaukie Ave (main parking area)
In September & October Trackers instructors will collect fibers during our Thursday Skills Evenings. Also, consider joining our Skills Evenings ($5 entry) where you can learn different skills such as fire with no matches or weaving. Or you can loose arrows in the archery range.
Trackers loves to teach making cordage (rope) from natural fibers in our camps and programs. The uses for this rope are essential and includes wild craft projects, shelter building, bowstrings and much more. In an effort to use more local sources, we invite our community to responsibly gather plant materials to bring into our first annual Fiber Drive!
Many of these plants are often pruned and thrown out while landscaping. Some might grow in your own backyard. Consider harvesting to share with our students. We really appreciate the gift! Above all, put caring for the plant and the natural world first.
During the fiber drive, drop-off is outside in our main parking area (Thursdays). Below you’ll find descriptions of the different fiber plants we’re looking for. Along with helpful hints for caretaking and harvesting.
The best yucca leaves for fiber are the largest, longest ones. Harvest from the outside, these are the oldest. Only take a few to not stress the plant. Cut at the base of the leaf at a downward angle away from the plant with a sharp knife or pair of scissors (follow knife safety). If your yucca bloomed and seeded this year, you can collect the dry seed pods to start new ones! Also, feel free to bring in the any flower stalks that are straight and sturdy (we use these for hand drills—tools for fire with no matches). Learn more about Yucca.
This fiber rich plant can grow to be very large and is cared for in a different way than yucca. Many people thin the leaves of their flax plants by identifying older leaves and removing them. Very old leaves start to yellow and should be removed first (although the fiber inside may be compromised at this point). Identifying a new fan of leaves and only harvesting the outside leaves, leaving the three tallest middle leaves of this fan, is another way to thin. Never harvest from a plant with a developing a flowering stalk as it will cause too much stress. Learn more about fiber from New Zealand Flax.
A great time to harvest stinging nettle for fiber is after it’s produced its seeds (for food is at a different time). At this point, it’s beginning to transition the energy into its roots or rhizomes for Fall and Winter. Stinging nettle has little micro needles that can cause a sting (irritating but not dangerous). Make sure you wear gloves and clothing that protect your skin while harvesting. Use a knife or pair of sharp scissors and cut the stalk at the base, just above the ground. Remove the leaves, which are full of nutrients, and let them fertilize the land where you harvested, or put the leaves in your garden compost. Learn more about Stinging Nettle.
Get kids to eat their vegetables with wild edible plants!
A few winters ago, my three-year old son Robin started to grow finicky about the veggies on his dinner plate. Yet as spring rolled around, we began to harvest wild plants on our forest wanderings. Once the boy learned about succulent miner’s lettuce and clover-like wood sorrel, foraging quickly became our little guy’s favorite hobby. Robin’s newfound enthusiasm motivated me to brush up on many wild edible plants. Now afternoon grazing is a large part of our garden chores. Mustard flowers with greens, lamb’s quarters and, to a more bitter extent, dandelion have become favorite snacks while tending to our little patch of Earth.
I had started to worry that my kid would forever balk at veggies but it’s like a switch was flipped. Robin’s grazing habits now follow him into the house as he willfully rummages through the vegetable crisper to nibble on broccoli and raw spinach. The other day, I watched him show Annie, his younger sister, the ripe thimbleberries and how to find wood sorrels that are still tasty green in late summer (look for the shadiest spots). As I noticed him eagerly passing his newfound wisdom I reminded them to “ask first”—for safety they only eat a plant after getting permission from mom or dad.
It’s beautiful to witness another reminder of how connecting to nature can keep our kids healthy in very practical ways. While one could claim I’m overreaching, I choose to feel that in some small way we choose the path of a Wilder living one wood sorrel at a time.
Remember Know your wild edible plants before harvesting. Understand identification well enough to not mistake a safe edible with a poisonous lookalike.
Hunting and foraging the Portland wild
Free community lecture with Trackers Earth
August 16, 2014, 6:30pm
At Trackers Earth’s new flagship 4617 SE Milwaukie Avenue, Portland, OR
PORTLAND, OR – August 5, 2014 – In recent years there has been a resurgence of people who forage their food from the land. This is not only limited to rural or wild areas: There is a new movement of urban gatherers who eke out a living that includes gleaning city fruit trees and hunting invasive nutria.
Tom Prang, Lead Instructor for Trackers Earth, has lived the subsistence lifestyle for nearly 30 years. After teaching himself to hunt and trap as a teenager, he got a degree in archeology and started his research in Alaska. It was there Tom and his wife Julia Pinnix lived from the bounty of nature—hunting their own meat, bottling cellars of wild wines, preserving fruits, mushrooms, and roots, and even making stone and bone tools.
Community Lecture: Tom will be presenting a free lecture titled Subsistence Hunting and Foraging: How to Get Started at 6:30pm on August 16, 2014. This is also the first public event at Trackers Earth’s new Portland Headquarters for their Outdoor Skills and Folk Craft School. The new location features one of the largest indoor archery ranges in Portland which will be open to the public before the event begins. Attendees of all ages and experience levels are welcomed to come and hear Tom discuss ways, ethics, and regulations of hunting and foraging for food.
About Trackers Earth: Trackers Earth teaches “common sense skills” that are no longer common. This includes old-time outdoor skills of Forest and Folk Craft that include wilderness survival, wild plants, homesteading and blacksmithing. Each year they serve over 12,000 youth through their award winning camps as well as providing a range of adult programs. With creative
themes such as zombie survival, bow making, and even the official Hellboy camp, they’re not your typical nature school. 2014 starts a yearlong celebration for the 10th anniversary of Trackers Earth.
Visit the Event Page
Please contact the Trackers Office for more information: (503) 345-3312