Practical Gifts for Herbalists and Foragers
Completely stumped for what to get the herbalist in your life? I made this post for ya'll with links and recommendations to make it easy. For my herbalist readers, feel free to send this to friends and family to help them out.
1. HERB GRINDER: The most essential appliance for an herbalist is an herb grinder (Aka "spice and nut grinder"). We use these to grind up dried herbs for tinctures, to powder herbs to make capsules and electuaries, and to grind culinary herbs for use in cooking. I recommend the Cuisinart Spice and Nut Grinder, as it has less parts than my other favorite Secura Electric Coffee Grinder. For more advanced herbalists who already have a smaller grinder, a HUGE Chinese herb grinder like THIS ONE is another option, though a bit more expensive. The benefit of these Chinese grinders is that they can grind almost anything, including woody shelf mushrooms and dried roots and barks.
2. HORI HORI: A Hori hori is a Japanese digging knife that is like a knife and a shovel had babies. It is indispensable when harvesting small roots, especially things like dandelion. These are usually available at your local nursery, but here's a link to the one I have. They also are great for getting weeds out by the roots, so maybe grab one for yourself too!
3. LEATHER GARDENING GLOVES: There are lots of herbs that are POKEY, so every herbalist needs to have thick gloves like these to prevent getting stabbed by blackberry brambles or devil's club. Here's a pair that extends all the way up the arm that is made for pruning roses. A good pair of insulated garden gloves is also a good do. Make sure to get the size right or keep the receipt. Even if your herbalist already has a pair of these, you can never have too many.
4. CLIPPERS, PRUNERS, LOPPERS: A forager has gotta cut things, and we want that cut to be clean, so high quality, sharp cutters are what life is all about. Clippers are the number one tool in a forager's arsenal, and we want as many as we can get our hands on, in as high a quality as possible. There are different types made for smaller jobs, medium jobs, and then straight up branches. We want to collect them all. Here is an article with some good recs.
5. FOOD DEHYDRATOR: Not all herbalists have one, but all herbalists with a little extra room WANT one. These are helpful to dry things faster, and to dry fleshy things that tend to mold, like berries and roots. These can be a bit pricy, but there are lots of different types. The highest end brand is Excalibur. Here is a model from them that is smaller and on the cheaper side. Make sure your herbalist has the space and does not already own one.
6. BASKETS: There are two types of baskets that are helpful for herbalists, drying baskets and gathering baskets. For gathering baskets, which herbalists use in the field to carry tools and harvest into, I really like these fair trade African baskets from Alaffia. Honestly I carry mine to the gym, in the car with me, to my parents house. One you start carrying around a basket you won't go back. For drying baskets, anything made from natural materials that is large and flat works. Here is a bamboo basket from etsy that are perfect for the job. Herbs are strewn out in these flat baskets so they don't touch, and left to dry. All traditional cultures used flat baskets like this for drying foods and medicinal herbs, so there's lots of designs.
7. SUPER NERDY BOOKS: This can be a tough one depending on how advanced the herbalist or forager is. There are A LOT of books out there, and if you don't know anything about the topic, how in the world do you sift through it all? Here are a few recommendations from my library...
First, "Body into Balance" by Maria Noel Groves is a fantastic book for beginners wanting to dig deep into how to use herbs.
"Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants" by Scott Kloos is an essential book for a forager in the Cascadia bioregion. "Braiding Sweetgrass" By Robin Wall Kimmerer is a must read for foragers and herbalists alike.
For the supernerd herbalist, something in Jillian Stansbury's "Herbal Formulary for Health Professionals Series" (of which there are 5 volumes).
For the supernerd forager and amateur ecologist, something like "Keeping it Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of America" edited by Deur and Turner could be excellent.
8. Stocking Stuffers (smaller items)
funnels with small openings
Fancy/ cute labels for jars and bottles
tea strainers like THIS ONE
Good luck shopping! Remember to buy local where possible and support small businesses.