How To: Forage Natural Resources

The act of foraging, or finding food in the wild, used to be a primary pathway to nourishment for our ancestors. Today? Not so much. However, when approached as a hobby, it can be a fun way to educate yourself on the abundant natural resources available in Minnesota, which can be used for anything from food and natural medicine to crafts and decorations. Here’s how to get started.

Do your research
There are so many wild foods that are safe to eat—but, of course, some are poisonous. The Minnesota Harvester Handbook is a great beginner’s resource to acquaint yourself with some of our state’s top natural resources that are safe to consume. Foraging apps for your phone like iNaturalist and Wild Edibles can help you identify safe plants on-the-go.

Ask permission
While you can always forage on your own land, it’s best practice to obtain permission from landowners before foraging on private land that’s not your own. To learn more about foraging on public land, visit The U of M Extension’s foraging webpage at

Get picking
With spring on the way, a fun way to dip your toe into the foraging game is with edible and decorative florals. Lauren Berube, who works at Little Hill Berry Farm in Northfield, enjoys foraging lilacs every spring and making a variety of products for personal use—from floral-infused water to simple syrup, tea and even a facial toner. “The easiest and maybe best thing to make with lilacs is lilac water,” she says. “Clip a clean bunch (not by a busy road or sprayed with chemicals), place into a mason jar, cover with water and wait at least a couple hours for the blossoms to infuse in the water. I like to make a couple jars and put them in the fridge overnight. It’s so delicate and fresh and invigorating. Lilacs are this potent reward and sweet spot after winter finally retreats and before the intensity of summer sets in. They’re deeply intoxicating and refreshing.”