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At Shepherds Song, we feel a special kinship to foraging as this is something we get to watch our lambs and goats do every day! We think the foods that come from the landscape offer a special sense of place, and that an appreciation for real, natural food native to the region is something we need more of in this fast paced world.
Foraging is an essential piece of human history for over 10,000 years. Like our lamb and goats that consume native grasses, foraging is a sustainable way of collecting and learning the resources that can be in your own backyard. Oftentimes people find it as a way to reconnect and respect nature, something that can be forgotten when we live in urban areas.
One of the largest opportunities with foraging is the wide range of available grasses, forbs, herbaceous plants, and trees. This gives sheep and goats a more diverse and healthy diet that is not only nutritious, but potentially medicinal. In essence, foraging offers animals a habitat that begins to resemble their “original” experience grazing in the wild. Farming has oversimplified the animals experience of seeking food. In some operations the animals only visit the feed bin for grain or hay. This not only offers a limited diet in terms of nutrition but prevents the joy of we all experience seeking out food in the landscape.
Foraging is not just idle wandering although there is certainly joy in being outdoors and exploring the landscape. Variety is the spice of life for animals and for us. Diverse food options help all the members of the group, both young and mature, meet their nutritional requirements. The mom’s diet influences the taste of the young even before birth. Research has shown this to be true for both humans and animals. Teaching the the young what to eat is an important aspect of raising livestock on native grasses and silvopasture. The adult animal has different nutritional needs than the young and yet in a variable environment the needs of both can be met.
In keeping with our commitment to bring you the highest quality, sustainable foods, we are excited to share a new, unique collection of hand-harvested products crafted by North America’s leading wild food and foraging expert Samuel Thayer, founder of Forager’s Harvest and Wild Wood Orchard. Growing up in Wisconsin, Sam taught his first wild edibles class at age 7. Now, considered one of the world’s leading foraging experts, he’s the author of several foraging guides, and teaches workshops throughout the United States.
We’re proud to be partnering with Sam and Foragers Harvest to bring you a range of products from Sam’s one-of-a-kind, cold-pressed acorn and hickory nut oil, to slow-simmered maple syrup and maple-apple spread, dried wild mushrooms, and wild fruit leather in a palette of colors, as well as Sam’s foraging guides.
These are extraordinary products not found anywhere else, each one a rare delicacy in its own right, and we’re proud to be one of the only suppliers in the United States. Hickory nut oil is made from hand-harvested wild nuts, and tastes like a buttery pecan. Maple apple spread is decadent on toast or straight off the spoon, and hand-harvested wild plum jam tastes like the sunny Wisconsin day when the ripe plums were harvested. We hope you’ll enjoy these special treats from Sam Thayer as much as we do.