Steamy days...evenings foraging by the ocean...berries, goldenrod, boneset...squeezing and savoring every drop of this delicious time of year!

I love summer! The parade of plants, changing from week to week, invoking new ideas for medicines and skin care. This season has also been a time of study and being the  student (again!) - even after several decades as a community herbalist! At the beginning of 2017, I had a bucket  list of teachers who had inspired me to stop for a moment and listen. So, beginning in May, I headed off to Maine to spend time with expert forager, Arthur Haines. June had me boarding the ferry to Martha's Vineyard for a two week herbal immersion intensive with Holly Bellebuonno. Both of these experiences were deeply enriching, moving me into new pathways for my herbal work.


In the foraging world, June welcomed mulberries...followed by black blackberries...and, in a couple of weeks, elderberries!  Each season, the wild plants gift us with exactly what we need. In Spring, we welcome the nutritive support from nettle, dandelion, chickweed, violet, yellow dock, mugwort. After a long New England winter, these plants fortify us through teas, edibles, and vinegar infusions, extracting vitamins, minerals, and  cleansing the winter cobwebs! Summer is a time of needing extra protection from the sun. Welcome the  berries...the antioxidant, anthocyanin rich wild ones!

Last night's foraging was all about blackberries (Rubus sp). For me, there is something very Zen around this... I begin to become one with the blackberry. The activity is quiet and focused, discovering juicy berries hidden in places where other berry pickers tend to miss. Good. More in my  bucket!

So, where to forage...Blackberries tend to grow in sunny locations, adjacent to field or meadow edges. Always look from the ground level up, gently lifting the branches. Expect to come away with stained hands and multiple scratches!
And to be clear, the difference between wild Black Raspberries and Blackberries is: the Black Raspberries are smaller and the underside of the leaf has a silvery sheen. Blackberries are plumper, juicer and bigger. No silvery underside on leaf. They also appear at different times, the Black Raspberries ending about two weeks ago, Blackberries just coming in now. Although I forage Black Raspberries, my personal fave are the Blackberries.

And here's the scoop...They are a nutrient dense super food, containing Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, C, E and K...calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc!  Rich in flavonoids, which include anthocyanin (think anti oxidant), they protect against free radicals. Blackberries are heart healthy, support good digestion, enhance memory and behavioral functions, are high in lutein (specific for eye health), and the list goes on. And yes, in the summer sun, we need extra antioxidants to protect us (note that it does not take the place of using a clean sunscreen, but they will work in tandem, supporting from inside out).

As an edible think:  jam, or part of a summer fruit salad, or with your breakfast cereal. Maybe even in muffins! Wash just before eating, and dry lightly with a clean cloth. They can also be frozen. As a drinkable, my favorite way is to make either a shrub or a cordial. At this moment, there is a shrub "brewing", with juice from the half of the berries extracting in organic can sugar, and other half of  berries infusing in organic raw pressed apple cider vinegar. In about a week the juice and the vinegar will be combined, and then allowed to hang out together for another week in order for the blackberry flavor to come to the forefront (if I can wait that long!). When all is said and done, I will add a very small amount to sparkling mineral water for a refreshing summer drink. Here is a link to a great recipe.

So, bask in the window of's sweet, wild, juicy soul is a summer delight we might emulate. Become the blackberry. And, in a couple of weeks it will say adieu, when we will welcome the next berry up...ELDERBERRY!!!!

Susan Clements
 Community Herbalist
Do you need support on your personal journey to wellness?

As a Community Herbalist with 30 years of experience, I have a lot of wisdom to share. A one-on-one consultation with you provides an opportunity to  co-create  a personalized plan for wellness.  Moving forward this would include herbs, as well as other types of support to possibly include supplements, diet, aromatherapy, exercise, body work, etc. 

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Apothecary 101 - (multiple meetings)

Creating Cordials

Everything About the Skin: Face and Body (2 meetings)

Bridging Herbs & Spirit (3 meetings)

Root Medicine

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