One of the themes in Tribes of Eden I personally found compelling was the idea of getting closer to nature and living off the land. Readers get their first taste of this when the survivors of the Wallace family, seemingly at their lowest point on the run from the terror of America’s collapse, find nourishment from nature:
“The earth, now in spring’s first flush, fed them. Kiana’s trained eyes found dandelion greens, wild mushrooms, and fiddlehead ferns. Val still had Makena’s pouch of matches slung around her neck. Eron scavenged a pot from a barn, half of which remained standing. Kianna made hot soup for children.”
Soon after (but not before a few more brushes with disaster), the Wallace family finds refuge in the Shire, a remote community that survived the collapse of society because its residents had been living “off-the-grid” for many years. Completely self-sufficient, they had learned how to live off the land, harness solar and wind power, forage medicinal wild plants and make their own clothes and tools.
What makes the Shire sections of the book most compelling is that they are based on the author’s own experience living-off-the-grid for nearly twenty years. Summerhill is a real place and Bill and Jude Thomas did build their own house and live off the land and farm with draft horses and use only wind or solar energy.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to build my own house and truly live off the land, but as a hobby I do enjoy learning about and foraging for wild edible plants near where I live. And yes, there are numerous wild edibles plants right outside my door in the city of Baltimore.
Last summer I attended an urban foraging class put on by the Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreation featuring Leda Meredith, a foraging expert and author from Brooklyn. In one afternoon she showed us nearly two dozen wild edible plants in Druid Hill Park right in the heart of Baltimore. These ranged from Burdock and Mayapples to Milkweed, Pokeweed, Black Raspberries and Daylilies.
I recorded the whole workshop on my iPhone and edited together clips of each of the different plant species we harvested. Take a look at the first video featuring the Daylily, a true “supermarket” wild edible. And if you want to know what it’s like living “off-the-GRID,” check out Tribes of Eden today!