Community Agricultural Alliance: A wild edible feast in the Yampa Valley |

Community Agricultural Alliance: A wild edible feast in the Yampa Valley

I would like to be sweet anise.  What a heady aroma I would cast, and my spunky anise flavor is tantalizing on the tongue.

Or maybe a spicy wild onion.  Mmm, that strong taste that enhances so many other things and has an abundance of medicinal benefits.

Or I could send all the perfect lawn purists howling into the summer sun and say I want to be a dandelion.  What beautiful flowers, blooming just as the early bees are in need of sustenance, yummy and highly nutritious greens, sunny flowers for tasty fritters.  Not to mention the value of how their deep taproots pull up mineral nutrients from deep in the soil.

Perhaps you would like to bend down to my level, a little lower please. Maybe on your belly as you gaze into my cute smiling face of purple, white or yellow.  Violets of any color can all be added to a spring salad for a yummy treat.

We are surrounded by a plethora of edible and medicinal plants.  You walk by them on your hike up Spring Creek Trail or Emerald Mountain.  Do you stop and take note of what smells good, what has interesting flowers and/or berries? 

Connecting with our natural world is getting harder for us to do as we tune into our cellphones, plug in the earbuds or converse with our partners as the amazing world rolls by unnoticed.  It really is just waiting for you to notice. 

 Studies done on the effects of nature on our human mind and physiology show unequivocally that we need nature and need to interact with nature.  Check out Florence Williams’ Book “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative” for a great read on what nature provides us.

I would like you to notice.  Try this simple thing next time you are out walking the dog, walking along the river and even walking along the street.  Stop, take a deep breath while you close your eyes.  Notice the aromas with your eyes closed.  Then notice the sounds around you. 

Next bring in the feelings of the wind or the sun.  Open your eyes and focus on only one thing.  Is there a beautiful tree right there?  Focus.  Take in every detail slowly, then expand to take in the sensory details of that tree.  Focus.  Keep breathing.  By now your heart has slowed, you have increased your mental clarity, and your stress level has fallen dramatically.  Nature is pretty cool, huh?

If you want to expand that connection, learn about the world around you so you, too, notice the sweet anise, tangy onions or cute little violets.  This is how we expand our world by coming closer to it. 

A great opportunity to expand your world is through Yampatika’s 19th Annual Wild Edible Feast, unfortunately, the event is sold out.  But, there are other ways to learn more about edible and medicinal plants. Consider attending a wildflower or medicinal herb walk this summer with Yampatika. Contact 970-871-9151 or for more information or to sign up, or visit  Then you can tell me what plant you would like to be.

Karen Vail is senior naturalist and founder of Yampatika.

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