Wildcrafting on Epekwit’k

The art of gathering medicines and foods from nature is being revived.

For most of us, the Island’s waters and forests are a source of beauty and offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. What we don’t often recognize is that these natural settings are also a valuable source of medicinal herbs and nutritional foods. The art of wildcrafting is growing in popularity on PEI and beyond. I caught up with local wildcrafter Shallom Tarzan, to find out more about the practice.

Wildcrafting simply refers to gathering herbs, plants, and fungi from the wild. Of course, the art is much more nuanced than that, with many considerations around sustainability and how to safely harvest from nature.

Plant identification is of utmost importance while wildcrafting. “It’s about knowing what is acceptable, and what is not, while gathering food and medicines,” said Tarzan. One must be sure exactly what plant or fungus they are harvesting, and also how to harvest it in a way that will encourage it to thrive for future wildcrafters.


Part of the skill of wildcrafting involves gathering in a respectful, sustainable way, gathering only what is needed and being mindful of the health of the plant. Being aware of the status of the plant is also vital. Tarzan does not harvest any plants that are endangered or threatened. In fact, when possible, he helps the plants out by spreading their seeds. In this same vein, where the plants grow must be considered. Gathering plants from a clean area, away from sprayed feeds and roadsides is always best.

Wildcrafting is important to making locally-sourced herbal medicines, as it allows Tarzan and fellow wildcrafter Emily Doyle to interact with the plants at each step of the process. The final stage for Tarzan and Doyle is the creation of herbal products for their respective businesses, Watermoon Holistic Herbs and Emalee Wildflower.

“There is an abundance to be found from discovering the medicines in the wild,” Tarzan said. He believes Islanders don’t always need to manipulate the land to suit our well-being. “A lot of what is needed is already available in the wilderness that surrounds us on PEI.”

“Wildcrafting is exercise, meditation, and an act of grounding to let go of stress”, said Tarzan. He emphasizes the importance of giving thanks to the plants and Earth while wildcrafting. “I give gratitude to the plants by laying down specific smudging herbs or making an offering of natural tobacco”. Giving an offering back to the plants, Tarzan believes, allows them to continue being abundant for future generations.


Today, wildcrafting may be viewed by many as a specialized skill or art that very few can practice, but it has been essential over the course of human evolution. Nature continues, to offer a bountiful supply of foods and medicines suited to humans. It seems not just possible but probable that wildcrafting will become a widely practiced, necessary skill again as we face rising food insecurity issues and seek ways to regain our self-sufficiency.

The information provided is intended solely for educational purposes and is not a substitute for personalized medical advice. Check with an MD, ND or pharmacist before beginning any herbal medicine to ensure it is safe for you.