In 2007 I began film school at Oklahoma City Community College. I had just came back from a 7 week stint backpacking solo through Europe. When I came back to the states I brought with me a desire to make films that connect people to the earth around them. The European countries that I visited all seemed to have one thing in common that I felt was missing in the United States and that was a connection to the past…a rich culture deeply rooted in their history that connected them firmly with the people and places around them.  People there were intimately related to all things around them: food, architecture, art, nature, to name a few. I came home inspired. I wanted to make films that connect people to something greater than all of the material things that we as Americans seem to prioritize most. Our cars, our homes, careers…we put so much time and energy into these things that those material items tend to define our lives. Our purpose. Well, the older I get the more I realize that relationships with self and others, the connectivity to the people and world around us, is what brings true happiness.


This is what leads me to this next blog. Interconnectivity to the world around us. The people, the plants, the animals. These things give me a feeling of peace and happiness.


At film school, I had decided that for my capstone project I was going to make a film about local food, a subject that did not seem to excite my professor. He challenged my idea, as he didn’t see how I could get an audience to become engaged with this subject. I felt lots of emotion at the time. Was he right? How could I make a film on local food that would engage an audience? I went through a whole string of emotions and questions only to have a determination to prove him wrong, and to seek out a story that truly engaged the audience. That short film became Food For Thought, my first film ever and one that my professor not only was proud of, but one that he continued to show to students for years after I graduated.


During the making of Food For Thought, I met Jackie Dill. Jackie is a dedicated educator, focused on connecting people to the earth around them through wildcrafting. Wildcrafting is harvesting plants from nature for either food or medicinal purposes. With this comes a lot of responsibility. Always ask permission when entering someone else’s land. Never harvest a plant that is endangered. Harvest only what you need, never taking all of the plant. Other creatures depend on this food and if you harvest it all then there is none left for next year. And perhaps most importantly, get a true ID on a plant as to not poison yourself of others. If you are uncertain, then leave it be. One false ID can have irreversible damage. Start reading books, and if you can, attend a class by someone who has been wildcrafting for years and learn from them.


Spring is a great time to started wildcrafting with plants coming out of their winter slumber. Shortly after Beau and I purchased our Twenty almost two years ago, we discovered wild garlic, Allium on the property. To someone who loves garlic, nothing tastes quite as good as wild garlic. It’s fresh, it’s found, and it’s free! What can be more enticing than that?!!! But it does come with a caution, if it doesn’t smell like garlic then stay away. To my dismay, while doing research for this blog I found several articles informing people on how to rid themselves of this delicious native. First of all, this plant does not reveal itself for long periods of time. It puts on foliage in the spring and then retreats back into the ground remaining as merely a bulb until next year. “You’ll have a golf course lawn in no time”.


So if you’re interested in wild foraging and live in Oklahoma, I recommend finding local books such as these books by Jackie Dill, and Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie by Kelly Kindscher. And while you’re reading up on that, Beau and I will do what any sane people would do who just harvested some wild garlic. Wash it up and start the day by cooking some farm fresh eggs with a seasonal twist!

Stefanie Leland
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