What is Wildcrafting? Bastyr's Unique Outdoor Elective

Bastyr student holding plants and smiling

Spending time in the woods of the Pacific Northwest near a giant waterfall for college credit – What could be better? Though many in-person courses were adjusted to an online format for the Summer 2021 Quarter due to the pandemic, many students found ways to connect with their cohort through outdoor electives.  

What is Wildcrafting? 

Wildcrafting, according to Forestmedicine.net, is defined as “the craft of harvesting medicinal plants from the wild.” Also known as foraging, it can be a useful skill to have if you find yourself in the woods for a prolonged period of time without food, or simply want to live more sustainably. 

What Students Learned 

Students had the opportunity to “meet” plants in their natural environment, learn their medicinal properties and harvest them sustainably. The course also covered why certain plants thrive near each other, and how, when medicinal plants are combined, they can work together to create formulations.  

Phytochemistry is always a part of the elective - matching the constituents/groups with the correct menstrua to most effectively extract and preserve them. 

The Takeaway

Many students had never tried wildcrafting and walked away knowing how to harvest and process what they found. They also took home several herbal remedies.  

“Students had the opportunity to meet the plants in their natural environment, sit with them, learn their medicine and harvest sustainably to create effective remedies in the field. And when we say field, let’s just say the most amazing views, fresh air and camaraderie! I heard more than once people say how wonderful it was to be able to be together in a group and be outside and take in the beauty,” said Bastyr adjunct faculty, and owner of Cedar Mountain Herb School, Suzanne Tabert. 

Current students have another opportunity to take the wildcrafting elective, October 9 and 10. There are no prerequisites to take this course, and it is open to Bastyr students in all disciplines.  


 Photos provided by Suzanne Tabert. 

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