Go Wild

By Steven Foster.

Basin Spring, Eureka Springs, ArkansasThe fading light of an earlier sunset glows pumpkin orange through the brilliant fall foliage. There’s something about the light at this time of year that portends winter’s comfort warmth. The harvest is in. The chorus of geese en masse cuts through cold clear nights. Chiggers and ticks are mostly gone. Solitary cold blooded reptiles slither toward their winter dens, where they will huddle together for the winter. Time to head back to the woods.

We all need a little more contact with nature.  In just one generation our collective kids have lost touch with nature in favor of electronic screens. Part of the problem is risk-adverse adults telling kids that nature is dirty and dangerous. This is the perfect time of year to encourage kids (of all ages, you included) to get out and spend 30 minutes a day romping or roaming—just being in nature.

Starting around 2004 scientific studies began to appear showing children are  spending less time in nature and how that impacts their health and psyche. A recent three-year study by the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) measured “connection to nature” in 8–12 year olds, finding that only 21 percent of children had any connection to nature. Surprisingly, urban children had a slightly higher rate of nature connection than rural kids; girls (27%) versus boys (16%) were engaged in nature. In 2005, in his book, Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books), author Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder.”

On Friday, 25 October 2013, a new documentary film premiered in London, Project Wild Thing, a feature-length documentary by David Bond,  self-appointed “marketing director for nature.” In conjunction with the film’s release, the Wild Network was launched with nearly 400 organizations in the UK, promoting the idea of urging children to swap 30 minutes of screen time per day for 30 minutes of outdoor activities.

I went to the Project Wild Thing website and signed this kid up to commit swapping 30 minutes of screen time for wild time.  Now which one of my four or more electronic screen on at any time shall I give up for 30 minutes? See: www.projectwildthing.com.

By Steven Foster

Describing her first visit with Steven Foster in 1977, Harvard University botanist, Dr. Shiu Ying Hu (1908-2012), wrote, “Our conversation reminded me of something that Confucius said two thousand years ago. ‘In any company of three persons, there must be one who can be my teacher’. . . I found in Steven Foster a teacher who could share a profound knowledge of economic botany, particularly in the cultivation and uses of herbs.” In 1974, at age 17, Steven Foster, began his career at the Sabbathday Lake, Maine, Shaker Community Herb Department —America's oldest herb business, dating to 1799. There he established three acres of production gardens and managed 1700 acres for the commercial harvest of botanicals. For forty-six years, Steven has photographed and researched herbs from the Amazon rainforest to the highlands of Vietnam. Foster has over 900 photo-illustrated articles published in a wide range of media. Steven also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Botanical Council, and a Contributing Editor to the organization's journal, HerbalGram. Steven is the author, co-author and photographer of eighteen books, including the NEW 2014 Third Edition of A Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants: Eastern and Central North America (with James A. Duke), along with National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs (2010), and A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine (2006, with Rebecca Johnson), awarded a 2007 New York Public Library “Best of Reference.” He is senior author of three other Peterson Field Guides, including A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs (with Dr. James A. Duke), 1st & 2nd editions, 1990, 2000; A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs with Dr. Christopher Hobbs, (2002); and A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants of North America (with Roger Caras, 1995). Other titles include Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West (with Prof. Yue Chongxi, 1992); Herbal Renaissance (1994); among others. Foster makes his home in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.