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Sustainable Harvesting Pledge

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Hi! I just wanted to upload the sustainable harvesting pledge I mention in all of my invasive recipe posts! Linked below is the pledge Kara Buchanan at Spoonful Herbals, Kate Kruesi, Aaron Desrochers at Alnobaiwi, Russ Cohen, Fred Wiseman, Duncan Murdoch (Intervale Center), Burlington Wildways Partners all collaborated on to create to best honor and protect the land we love so much. Please read through and be conscious of these statements on your own foraging adventures. :)


*Green indicates where ethical harvesting is permitted. Refer to the document for details.

There are so many rules and guidelines around foraging in Vermont it can be confusing! Because the land is currently “owned” by individual people and organizations with various perspectives on land use and public access, how do you know where you are allowed to harvest? The Intervale Center would like to provide clarity around the ~350 acres of land we manage and how we regard the practice of foraging or wildcrafting. We want the land to continue to be publicly accessible and enjoyed for farming, gardening, learning, celebrating, walking, skiing, biking, fishing, birding, running, walking and at last, foraging and more. Spending time in nature is good for our health in so many ways and foraging for highly nutritious food and medicine is encouraged here. But we ask of you to be thoughtful about how we “take” what the land has to offer so that we don’t deplete and destroy the species that make up our beautiful natural community. Not only that, we want us all to collectively agree as a community that as we receive what the land has to offer, we will actively contribute and return the gifts in the spirit of generosity and reciprocity. We hope that this ethical foraging pledge will help guide us as we continue to develop our love of this land.

“Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the earth will last forever.”

-From Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

The Intervale Center invites you to join a thoughtful and careful community of wild-harvesters (aka wild-crafters or foragers) on this land. Let us collectively seek to honorably and respectfully harvest abundant wild plants. Let us protect the populations of those rare, threatened, endangered and species in decline that call this place home. By reading and agreeing to this pledge, you show your care and respect to these plants, the land, stewards of this land and to your fellow harvesters. This land ethic is meant to evolve in the hearts and minds of our community so please contribute your thoughts as we all work on this together.

As an honorable harvester I pledge that:

  • I have permission to harvest on the land and will do so in an open and honest way.

  • I will continually learn about the species I am seeking to harvest so that I can positively identify them, understand their phenology, place in the ecosystem and how they affect my health.

  • I will take a moment to pause before I harvest so that I can evaluate if the organism is in good health, abundant and willing to be harvested.

  • I will hold myself and other harvesters accountable as the ones asking for life from the land.

  • I will use the harvest respectfully and only take what I personally need so that I can support my health and, only if there is enough, share with my friends, family and with those in need.

  • I will use the trails to minimize my impact and if I go off the trail, I will be careful where I step and be conscious about the risk of spread invasive species’ seed as I go.

  • I will not harvest rare, threatened and endangered species in the region.*

  • I will prioritize harvesting non-native invasive plants to help restore a more balanced ecosystem.**

  • When I harvest non-native invasive plant species, I will not spread the species’ range by dropping and leaving seeds or parts on the ground where they can regrow.

  • I will express my gratitude by considering the following ways:

  • Give thanks to the plants and to the land.

  • Give thanks to the stewards of this land, past and present.

  • Volunteer to support the land stewards’ management plan.

  • Give an ecologically appropriate gift to the land/species that has special meaning to me.

  • Donate to the organization that maintains and cares for the land.

Please be an active participant in helping us to identify and give our attention to areas or species that are in need of our attention or protection. Please contact us directly:, (802) 660-0440 ex:105

Kindly share the intention of these guidelines and pledge with other harvesters you meet on the land. In community, let us honor and steward this special place.

*List of species in decline in the lower Winooski valley.

  • Leeks/ramps are gone likely because of overharvesting. There will be efforts to re-introduce this species in the near future. I will not forage leeks/ramps for any of the Allium/onion species (Allium tricoccum).

  • Fiddleheads of the Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) are declining in the region. The Intervale Center is establishing restoration zones for propagation and protection. I will refrain from harvesting from these restoration zones. Outside of the restoration areas, I will take very few and ONLY the young fiddlehead shoots, NEVER the fully expanded fronds to discard later. I will never take more than half of the fiddleheads/fronds from the plant. If the plant has been harvested by another person that same year, I will leave it until the next year to give the organism a chance to recuperate and ultimately prosper in the valley. I will not harvest fiddleheads for commercial purposes.

**List of Non-native Invasive plant species:

  • Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) - edible young shoots

  • Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)- edible young shoots

  • Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)- edible young shoots

  • Narrow-leaved bitter-cress (Cardamine impatiens)- edible young shoots

  • Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackki), Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), Tatarian honeysuckle, (Lonicera tatarica) and Bell’s honeysuckle (Lonicera x bella)- flowers

  • Multi-flora rose (Rosa multiflora)- edible rose hips and flower petals

  • Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)- edible roots, seeds

  • Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

  • Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) – edible flowers

  • Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) – edible flowers

  • Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) - edible berries

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