Chelsea Green Publishing

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

Pages:384 pages
Book Art:Color photos and illustrations throughout
Size: 7 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585163
Pub. Date October 07, 2014
eBook: 9781603585170
Pub. Date October 07, 2014

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

13 Essential Plants for Human Survival

By Katrina Blair
Foreword by Sandor Ellix Katz

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 07, 2014


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 07, 2014

$29.95 $23.96

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, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.  More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival. 

When Katrina Blair was eleven she had a life-changing experience where wild plants spoke to her, beckoning her to become a champion of their cause. Since then she has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she forages, and has become a wild-foods advocate, community activist, gardener, and chef, teaching and presenting internationally about foraging and the healthful lifestyle it promotes. 

Katrina Blair’s philosophy in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our noses, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we will achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is about healing ourselves both in body and in spirit, in an age where technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence. But if we can become familiar with these thirteen edible survival weeds found all over the world, we will never go hungry, and we will become closer to our own wild human instincts—all the while enjoying the freshest, wildest, and most nutritious food there is. For free!

The thirteen plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed.  These special plants contribute to the regeneration of the earth while supporting the survival of our human species; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle, following the path of human disturbance. Indeed, the more humans disturb the earth and put our food supply at risk, the more these thirteen plants proliferate. It’s a survival plan for the ages.

Including over one hundred unique recipes, Katrina Blair’s book teaches us how to prepare these wild plants from root to seed in soups, salads, slaws, crackers, pestos, seed breads, and seed butters; cereals, green powders, sauerkrauts, smoothies, and milks; first-aid concoctions such as tinctures, teas, salves, and soothers; self-care/beauty products including shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste (and brush), face masks; and a lot more. Whether readers are based at home or traveling, this book aims to empower individuals to maintain a state of optimal health with minimal cost and effort.    


Library Journal–

"When you encounter a weed, do you pull it, spray it—or consume it? Blair, a holistic health and sustainable living educator, recommends the latter. In the first few chapters of this title, she emphasizes the importance of wild plants as food and medicine. The remaining chapters profile 13 edible weeds commonly found worldwide near human habitations: amaranth, chickweed, clover, dandelion, dock, grass, knotweed, lambsquarter, mallow, mustard, plantain, purslane, and thistle. Many are frequently classified as noxious or invasive, but Blair encourages us to see them not as enemies to be eradicated but as allies to nourish body and spirit. Each profile includes botanical and common names, a description, photos, history, edible and medicinal uses, and recipes. All recipes are vegan and most are raw. Verdict: This book includes valuable information about identifying and using common weeds and encourages us to reconsider our relationship with these usually scorned plants.”

The New York Times-

“How do we learn to empathize with other creatures, to respect the web of life that connects us all? The answer must lie, at least in part, somewhere in the deeply pleasurable childhood experiences so many gardeners cherish, moments of gazing into the depths of a blossom or watching a tendril unfold — and falling under the spell of a tiny miracle. … Katrina Blair’s charming and intelligent The Wild Wisdom of Weeds … delivers just about the best argument I’ve read for the futility of figuring out what, exactly, qualifies as a native plant and why ‘invasive’ can be a flawed concept. …Weeds, she insists, are ‘examples of nature’s creative edge.’ They’re powerful ambassadors, here to support our quality of life.”

"For more than a decade, I have been learning about the outstanding value of common weeds as survival food, as free and natural “live" foods with nutritive values far exceeding those of store-bought greens, and as sources of natural medicines to help restore health to bodies robbed of their vitality by the toxins, stresses, and poor diets of our modern world. There are thousands of wild edible plants on our planet, most of which are unpleasant to eat and difficult to locate or identify. Many of us wonder where and how we might best begin to learn to find and use these wild edibles. Katrina Blair's The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the perfect handbook for taking this journey back to better health, vitality, food security, and peace of mind, by learning to collect and use thirteen common nutritious and delicious wild weeds that grow pretty much everywhere that people live. It is a fantastic resource, and I highly recommend it! "--Matthew Stein, author of When Disaster Strikes and When Technology Fails

"Required reading for the survival of our species! What can we do to live more sanely in an increasingly insane world? Katrina Blair offers a new world of possibilities. The myriad brilliant insights and pragmatic solutions within The Wild Wisdom of Weeds are essential and evolutionary.”--Happy Oasis, Adventure Anthropologist, founder of Bliss U and the Raw Spirit Festival

"The Wild Wisdom of Weeds provides a beautiful and empowering exploration of wild foods, helping you to identify, prepare and celebrate edible weeds that you might otherwise overlook with simple tips on medicinal use, and charming, nutrient-dense recipes. A must-have for any beginning or serious forager.”--Jennifer McGruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen

"This may be the most important book you will ever read. Far more than just a book about foraging; it offers, with comforting clarity, hope for the future of feeding the world when before there seemed to be none.”--Nomi Shannon,

"This is the kind of information that should precede gardening and farming. Katrina Blair expertly shows that before picking up a hoe or spreading a single seed, we can turn to our yards, fields and forests for so many of the foods and medicines we need to live well.   The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is a gem, and will be foundational reading for anyone wanting to live close to the goodness of this Earth.”--Ben Falk, author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead

“Katrina Blair keeps it really simple and approachable..her recipes have inspired me to experiment with new ingredients in my ferments.”--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, from the foreword

"Common weeds can be even more nutritious and medicinal than our favorite vegetables. Three cheers to Katrina Blair for sharing the depths of such friends as lambsquarter and purslane!  Release your inner goat and go graze. Use these fantastic recipes to become an inspired gourmet of wild things. This book radiates with thorough research and first-hand knowledge of plants that matter.”--Michael and Nancy Phillips, authors of The Herbalist’s Way and The Holistic Orchard

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is one of those rare and important books that has the capacity to radically alter your view of a world you thought you knew well. You'll never look at weeds the same again!”--Ben Hewitt, author of The Nourishing Homestead and The Town that Food Saved

"Covering a small number of the most common edible/medicinal plants in depth, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds offers information on these species and their close relatives from multiple perspectives. From identification, harvesting and uses, through personal experiences and philosophy, to science and mysticism, this book has it all. Wherever in the world you live, whether you're a beginner or experienced forager, you'll have lots of fun reading and using this book.”--"Wildman" Steve Brill, naturalist, and author of the foraging app Wild Edibles

"Weeds used to be something you kill, eradicate, make war on, get rid of. But weeds are the plants that thrive, and The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is a much needed guide to understanding the virtues these plants possess and the wisdom of knowing them, using them, and keeping them around. Weeds are clearly more important than we have imagined."--Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy

"Katrina Blair has written a comprehensive guide to 13 foraged food plants that we can find anywhere in the temperate world, diversifying our diet whilst giving sensible guidelines to ensure we leave our wild plant colonies healthy. She encourages us to grow the weeds we love to eat, so we can literally forage on our doorsteps, and teaches us their medicinal properties, making food our medicine too. This is an engagingly written manual of radical self-responsibility, full of recipes and information, that belongs on every bookshelf."--Maddy Harland, editor and co-founder of Permaculture magazine 

"I don't know anyone more qualified to write this book than Katrina Blair. I've seen her go into the woods to harvest wild plants and "weeds", and then transform them into gourmet meals later that day that rivaled the best from any fancy restaurant. She definitely knows her stuff and I am proud she wrote The Wild Wisdom of Weeds."--Markus Rothkranz, author of Free Food and Medicine

"Katrina Blair’s great celebration of thirteen wild weedy plants that have followed human civilizations is a lively and passionate argument to change our attitude to weeds, to admire their resilience and high nutritional value, and to embrace them as a valuable resource – at the same time improving our mental and physical health by becoming closer to the natural world. A fun and enjoyable read.”--Martin Crawford, author of Creating a Forest Garden


Katrina Blair

Katrina Blair began studying wild plants in her teens, when she camped out alone for a summer with the intention of eating primarily wild foods. She later wrote “The Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants of the San Juan Mountains” for her senior project at Colorado College, where she graduated with a biology degree. In 1997, she completed an MA from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, CA, in holistic health education. She founded Turtle Lake Refuge in 1998, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate the connections between personal health and wild lands. She has taught sustainable living practices through John F. Kennedy University, San Juan College in Farmington, NM, and Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. She teaches internationally at retreats, festivals, and educational and healing events. She is also the author of a self-published cookbook, Local Wild Life: Turtle Lake Refuge’s Recipes for Living Deep (2009).


November 13, 2015

Katrina Blair at the MSSF Mendocino Woodlands Camp 2015

Mendocino Woodlands Camp #1, 39350 Little Lake Road, Mendocino, CA, 95460 | Katrina Blair
From November 13-15, Katrina Blair will be at the Mendocino Woodlands Camp in Mendocino, California for the Annual Myological Society of San Francisco (MSSF) Fall Camp/Foray. Blair will be one of the featured guest speakers for the camp, and she will be speaking on Friday, November 13th. The cost for the camp is $225 per person.

See all Events by this Author


Cooking Up a Story interview with Katrina Blair

The Wild Plant Cafe

Katrina Blair: Survival Plants and "Weeds"

Katrina Blair & the Turtle Lake Refuge

Gabriels Ranzi and Katrina Blair at Turtle Lake Refuge Raw Food Caf

"Growing Roots: The Story of Turtle Lake Refuge"

Interview with Katrina Blair, Founder of Turtle Lake Refuge

Wild Edible Greens with Katrina Blair

Durango Colorado 21 Aug 2012 Katrina Blair Dandelion Diddy er Organically Managed Parks


The Sugarmaker's Companion

The Sugarmaker's Companion

By Michael Farrell

The Sugarmaker’s Companion is the first guide of its kind addressing the small- and large-scale syrup producer seeking to make a profitable business from maple, birch, and walnut sap. This comprehensive work incorporates valuable information on ecological forest management, value-added products, and the most up-to-date techniques on sap collection and processing. It is, most importantly, a guide to an integrated sugaring operation, interconnected to the whole-farm system, woodland, and community. Farrell documents the untapped potential of American forests and shows how sugaring can turn a substantial profit for farmers while providing tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction. 

Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of the Uihlein Forest at Cornell University, offers information on setting up and maintaining a viable sugaring business by incorporating the wisdom of traditional sugarmaking with the value of modern technology (such as reverse-osmosis machines and vacuum tubing). He gives a balanced view of the industry while offering a realistic picture of how modern technology can be beneficial, from both an economic and an environmental perspective. Within these pages, readers will find if syrup production is right for them (and on what scale), determine how to find trees for tapping, learn the essentials of sap collection, the art and science of sugarmaking, and how to build community through syrup production. 

There are many more unique aspects to this book that set it apart from anything else on the market, including:

•    A focus on maple as a local, sustainably produced and healthy alternative to corn syrup and other highly processed and artificial sweeteners;
•    The health benefits of sap and syrup in North America and throughout the world;
•    Attention to the questions of organic certification, sugarhouse registration, and the new international grading system;
•    Enhancing diversity in the sugarbush and interplanting understory crops for value-added products (ginseng, goldenseal, and mushrooms, specifically);
•    An economic analysis of utilizing maple trees for syrup or sawtimber production and the market opportunities for taphole maple lumber;
•    The value of sap as a healthful and profitable energy drink;
•    Detailed analyses on the economics of buying and selling sap;
•    Lots of great information on marketing to create a profitable business model (based on scale, interest, and access), and more. . . .

Applicable for a wide range of climates and regions, this book is sure to change the conversation around syrup production and prove invaluable for both home-scale and commercial sugarmakers alike.

Available in: Paperback

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Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea

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Part of the NOFA Guides series. 

Information on composting techniques, including:

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  • Composting methods
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  • About costs (site preparation, equipment, labor and time)
  • What do you do with it?
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  • Compost and the law

With extended appendices including a recipe calculator, potting mix recipes, and a sample compost production budget sheet.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Top-Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell (DVD)

Top-Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell (DVD)

By Les Crowder and Heather Harrell

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In this instructive video, New Mexico beekeeper Les Crowder shares his thirty years' experience in developing best practices for working with bees in top-bar hives. Les and Heather Harrell, authors of Top-Bar Beekeeping (Chelsea Green, 2012) discuss everything from hive management techniques to how to harvest and process honey and beeswax to the best plants to grow for the foraging bees.

The natural, low-stress methods outlined in this video are perfect for home or hobbyist beekeepers who have the time and interest that's necessary to manage bees intensively and holistically. The material will also be valuable for home orchardists, gardeners, and permaculture practitioners who are interested in bees as pollinators, as well as for their honey and beeswax.

Available in: DVD

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Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:

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  • how to save seed and maintain varieties
  • how to conduct your own variety trials and other farm- or garden-based research
  • how to breed for performance under organic or sustainable growing methods

In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to "take back their seeds." They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.

Available in: Paperback

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