Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Foraging workshop from La Fée des Bois

by Glen Hartle
Apr. 20, 2024
Foraging enthusiasts and nature lovers gathered at La Fée des Bois Apothecary on Saturday afternoon for a crash course in how to find, harvest and consume wild edible and medicinal spring plants.
The lively session, attended by about 20 people, began with an information-type orientation from farm owner Mariane Desjardins Roy in front of a fire in a teepee on the farm’s property, where the sound of a creek could be heard not so far away.
Desjardins Roy is as real as they come. There was no circumvention in her discourse and one felt as if every word was as organic as the ground upon which she sat. Delving straight into things, she took participants through some of the tenets of herbalism.
“Identification books are key,” she offered while distributing a variety of books in both English and French suggesting that the essentials for both were the Peterson Field Guides and the Guides Culinaire Fleurbec collections, respectively.
“You want a book which has good drawings or very clear photographs, and which details botanical information for distinction amongst the other plants. Many plants look the same, and many are toxic – you must know the difference,” said Desjardins Roy.
“You might think you’re picking a wild carrot but it’s actually water hemlock and that is really, really bad for you,” she warned.
After the hour-long information session, attendees were ushered out into the surrounding Clarendon flora where wild species of interest were identified and the specific medicinal properties of each were highlighted.
Boughs were bent, leaves were scrutinized, roots were pulled, barks were scraped and shoots were sampled as participants followed Desjardins Roy in an informative and interactive version of show-and-tell.
If legitimacy is about preserving and honouring established wisdom, and authenticity is about achieving a more profound understanding, Desjardins Roy can be said to have both, and she wants to share that with the world.
“We want people to come and see, experience and realize the positive impact of organic farming,” she beamed in words congruent with her actions.
Desjardins Roy started La Fée des Bois Apothecary back in 2012 and has since grown her farm and business into an environmentally aware and fully engaged operation focused on regenerative agriculture methods and working hand-in-hand with nature.
“When I first arrived here, it was farmland that hadn’t been used in over 50 years and so had grown into a young forest,” said Desjardins Roy.
Since that time, the original farm house has been updated, complementary and functional outbuildings have been added, and La Fée des Bois now cultivates hundreds of perennial and annual plants in an ecological manner on a six acre plot of fields within the 70 acre farm.
The addition of a son to Desjardins Roy’s family invited her to shift gears a bit and commit to putting more emphasis on the educational side of the farm, working toward a greener future.