Wild-Harvested Plants and Social Media
The Cultural, Economic and Nutritional Value of Wild-Harvested Plants and How Social Media Can Help
Shortly after earning her EBOT Certificate, Sundance Visser presented a poster of her work on Wild-Harvested Plants and Social Media at the virtual 2021 Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference and Forum ‘Visions for the Future’ , May 13-14, 2021. Please find the abstract and poster below, and the detailed project post here. Good luck with your future degree in Sustainable Food Systems, Sundance!
We are at a pivotal point regarding climate change and decreasing global biodiversity. Nationwide, more people than ever are recreating on public lands and harvesting plants and fungi for food and medicine. Foragers are in a position to observe, collect, and share an immense amount of place-based knowledge when provided the support to do so.
Wild-harvested plants are both culturally and nutritionally important in Alaska. They are frequently harvested, gifted and traded, so data on harvest quantities and locations are often incomplete, informal, and excluded from economic reports . There is a gap in research around the non-commercial harvest of wild plants.
I am finishing my Ethnobotany Certificate through UAF and beginning a Masters program in Sustainable Food Systems at Prescott College. This poster is based on a paper I wrote that situates wild-harvested plants within Alaska’s food system, and, from my own standpoint as an urban Alaskan, identifies ways to get more people involved, building relationships with plants and each other.
Often people turn to social media and other platforms like iNaturalist to bridge the knowledge gap. The Alaska berry pickers Facebook group has 20,600 members, and these groups are undeniably creating connections and improving access to information and food within the community. In future research, I will examine how plant knowledge spreads through these networks and how they can be used to monitor and improve ecosystem and community health.