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Published on: Sep. 20, 2011

finally pulled up in front of the house, Frances grabbed a threadbare onion sack and bucket, hurried out the front door, and hopped into the rumble seat. She loved the way the warm spring breeze felt against her face as they wound their way into the country. Heavy morning dew sparkled on the grass.

It seemed an eternity before her uncle finally slowed and stopped the car. The ravine nestled between the wooded hillsides invited exploration. Like a butterfly, she flitted between one wildflower and the next, delighted. She picked violets and wild sweet William to create dainty bouquets while the adults searched for morel mushrooms.

Suddenly, she was called over. To her astonishment, the entire hillside was dotted with morel mushrooms. They picked the tender fungus until their sacks overflowed. Frances was afraid to take a step for fear of crushing one of these treasures. The afternoon warmed as the sun climbed higher in the sky, and the group spent the remainder of the day selecting tender green shoots from the moist, rich soil. Frances was taught to identify golden seal, stinging nettle and burdock. They picked spring beauty and redbud blossoms.

That evening they shared a meal of wild spring greens and fried morel mushrooms. To this day, Frances swears that it was the very best meal she has ever eaten. So began her love affair with wild edible plants.

Mothering, Mentoring and MDC

Frances grew up, married and became a mother, but she never lost her passion for exploring and collecting wild plants. She often foraged for wild greens to supplement her grocery store purchases. She became a Girl Scout leader for her daughter’s troop. As she introduced these young girls to edible plants, she continued to add to her own knowledge base. She still takes time each year to mentor Girl Scouts and their leaders in the Kansas City area.

Frances has noticed an alarming trend over the years, however. Each successive generation of children is getting outside less and less. Fewer leaders have the confidence to take the girls outside to explore.

Research indicates that this growing trend is detrimental to the health of our children and society as a whole. Frances encourages scout leaders to get these kids outside. Nature is a giant classroom and, if encouraged, children eagerly absorb each experience. When outdoors with a positive adult role model to mentor and guide

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