Is foraging farming?

I had an interesting exchange this week. The other person was insistent that foraging and farming were two very different things that didn’t belong together.  For me, the lines are extremely blurry, so it got me to thinking.

Is foraging farming?

When you hear foraging, what do you see? Often folks see people wandering through fields and woods, picking plants and berries and roots for food or medicine. It’s the picture of nature providing sustenance and nourishment, right? Foraging is deeply rooted in human history, representing our ancestors’ earliest means of sustenance. It involves searching for wild plants, fruits, nuts, and even hunting animals as a way to secure food. In this sense, foraging can be seen as an ancient form of subsistence farming, where humans cultivated a direct relationship with nature to obtain their essentials.

Farming evokes more of a picutre of neat rows of intentionally cultivated crops or managed animals that belong to a person. It’s a much more “man made” and managed situation and picture, right? Modern farming has little to do with wild plants or animals and often sees nature as something to be attacked, pushed back, controlled for the good of human kind.

At first look those pictures are quite different, eh?

foraging, weeds, natures garden, natural healthIt’s not that simple

In contemporary society, the boundaries between foraging and farming are blurring as we explore sustainable food practices. We’re increasingly realizing that cooperating with nature benefits us.  To view nature’s garden, which we forage from, and our garden as incompatable is to limit the health of the whole system.

Foraging is experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to its alignment with local, organic, and wild food movements. People are rediscovering the nutritional value and unique flavors of foraged foods, connecting them with a deep appreciation for the environment. In fact, we’re currently leading a book reading club exploring edible weeds and the medicinal benefits of a variety of cultivated and wild herbs.  (Catch the recordings inside the Tribe+ membership!)

Additionally, some forms of modern agriculture exhibit aspects of both foraging and farming. Permaculture, for example, integrates elements of both practices by designing self-sustaining ecosystems that mimic natural patterns. This approach highlights the interconnectedness between humans and the environment, drawing inspiration from traditional foraging while embracing the principles of farming.

We’ve found (and teach) that the more we can mimic nature, the easier our job as farmers is.  For example, when we graze our cows and pigs, they harvest and grow at the same time, saving us time, fuel, materials, and feed storage overhead.  Additionally, if the crops we plant for them don’t do well due to weather conditions and weeds spring up, we don’t stress out because the animals are happy to forage the weeds.  In fact, we’ve been know to forage the weeds from the animal paddocks! We’ve never had a fuel crisis because mostly the animals go to the feed rather than us harvesting, hauling, and then hauling it again. As a bonus, nature’s plants are far more nutrient dense and hardy than what we cultivate so that intentionally building foraging into our farming system benefits our animals and us tremendously.

The overlap between foraging and farming in a regenerative, permaculture, sustainable homestead farm system definitely complicates the question.

forage farming, grass fed, pasture raised, hogs, mangalitsa pigsLife lesson: respect

Perhaps this person has encountered rude foragers before. One of the life lessons from foraging is respect. As a forager, you learn to respect the seasons, the parts of the plant that are useful at all or at given times, and sometimes even the plant itself (as with thistle!). You also respect the nature you share nature’s garden with, like bears in a wild huckleberry patch, or the bees who need the flowers and may be pollinating your vegetable plants.

Sometimes people don’t realize or choose to ignore the rule of More Life to All and take from others or take more than their share.  On the other hand, farming can do that too, as liquid manure sears passers by noses and eyes, or the need for a weedless garden causes the demise of untold soil life.

Here are a few more life lessons from foraging and regenerative farming:


Life Lessons from Weedsforage farming pigs, mangalitsa pigs, hogs, pastured

  • It’s all about the soil
  • It isn’t the weed seed, but the conditions that allow the seed to grow and proliferate
  • If you don’t like what you see, don’t kill the weed: change the soil (this goes for your health and life as well as your ground)
  • Everyone matters and has a purpose.
  • Always be growing and changing. The alternative is dying.
  • No matter what, there’s always a way to thrive
  • LISTEN: nourishment comes from being aware and listening and being willing to receive
  • No matter what anyone says, YOU ARE IMPORTANT
  • Even when things don’t go right or the way you thought they should, they can still be great.
  • Cooperating with nature brings sustainable, regenerative health


The question remains:

Is foraging farming?book club medicinal herbs weeds, foraging

We believe, YES! Nature’s garden and our garden and farm go hand in glove. There is abundance in both places and we heartily appreciate what we harvest from nature, even intentionally cultivating places for nature to grow her goodness.

But, if you disagree, as the person who got me thinking did, that’s ok. The good news is that we’ll all eat just fine either way.

Anyone can farm.

Homestead failures and wins: the thrill of victory and pain of defeat

Homestead failures. They aren’t the end of the world.

The thrill of victory can come from the pain of defeat.

Success and failure are both part of the game. Failure can be discouraging. Let me tell ya.

  • When half your chickens die.
  • Potato bugs and squash bugs decimate your plants
  • Hail happens
  • Frost happens
  • And so many other things. that cause things to not go right.

It’s not the end of the world. Honest. In face, homestead failures can be what makes you stronger because they can be opportunities to learn and get stronger.

More on that as Mark talks about homestead failures and the thrill of victory and the pain of defeat.

You asked: homestead hope, challenges, and advice

Community: the homestead power grid

Do you hate your money?

Here’s what I’m thinking about this week:

“Do you hate your money?”

I’m thinking about where I spend my cash and if those spends align with my values.

For example, I’m paying bills that’ll have us ready for the Alternative Animal Feeds workshop and Tribe Day homestead conference. I value local small business as much as possible. Paypal and Amazon are not that. As much as possible I use other methods and sources.

The feed store is another place I make this value choice. Rather than use a large box store and national name brand feed, I have and use the option to support local mills who I can call and ask questions of and who take more personal interest in my needs.

Best yet, though, is what Will Rogers said, “The best way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.”

Nick Ferguson is going to teach you exactly how to do that, how to love your money by spending it on what you love instead of on animal feed. You can grow a lot, perhaps even all, of your feed with the techniques and plants he’ll be talking about.

How does that sound?

Here’s a sampling of who Nick is and what he’s passionate about:

Wouldn’t it be great to spend a whole day with Nick??

You got it: Alternative Animal Feeds: Ditch the feed store. July 7th. Here at Baker’s Green Acres. You won’t get this opportunity anywhere else for less. Come and get rich by saving money at the feed store!

BTW,  I know you’re not gonna get rich just saving at the feedstore, but you will be able to spend more money where you want to, doing what you want to! 

 Can’t come to Michigan? We’ll be recording this and adding it to the Tribe+ website membership videos. Members will have access to the info at their leisure. You can join today and be prepared!

Homestead Solutions: Joel Salatin

Mark and Joel sit down and have a wide ranging and dynamic conversation about what it means to be a farmer in the modern age and some of the crazy, lunatic ideas they’ve had that have molded the regenerative small farm homestead movement. Joel Salatin always brings a new a different perspective and this is a conversation you won’t want to miss. 

Who is Joel Salatin?

Joel Salatin calls himself a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. Others who like him call him the most famous farmer in the world, the high priest of the pasture, and the most eclectic thinker from Virginia since Thomas Jefferson. Those who don’t like him call him a bio-terrorist, Typhoid Mary, charlatan, and starvation advocate.

With 12 published books and a thriving multi-generational family farm, he draws on a lifetime of food, farming, and fantasy to entertain and inspire audiences around the world. He’s as comfortable moving cows in a pasture as addressing CEOs at a Wall Street business conference.

Often receiving standing ovations, he prefers the word performance rather than presentation to describe his lectures. His favorite activity?–Q&A. “I love the interaction,” he says.

He co-owns, with his family, Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia. Featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma and award-winning documentary Food Inc., the farm services more than 5,000 families, 50 restaurants, 10 retail outlets, and a farmers’ market with salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, and forestry products. When he’s not on the road speaking, he’s at home on the farm, keeping the callouses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails, mentoring young people, inspiring visitors, and promoting local, regenerative food and farming systems.

Salatin is the editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer, granddaddy catalyst for the grass farming movement. He writes the Pitchfork Pulpit column for Mother Earth News, as well as numerous guest articles for ACRES USA and other publications. A frequent guest on radio programs and podcasts targeting preppers, homesteaders, and foodies, Salatin’s practical, can-do solutions tied to passionate soliloquies for sustainability offer everyone food for thought and plans for action.