Learning to Drive, Hunt, and Gather

As things swing into full seed collecting mode here at the Santa Fe office, I’ve been working on all kinds of skills, including how to drive. Driving, that is, on rutted out, muddy, wash-board, and/or sandy roads.


Sandy arroyo crossing


A very steep hill, much steeper in person!

The powerful 4-wheel drive truck enables us to explore a lot of territory, and the purpose of exploring all that territory is, of course, to hunt for plant populations! Once we’ve been lucky enough to discover a swath of plants with ripe seed, the engine is off, we’re far from paved roads, my collecting bag is in hand, and sometimes I feel as though I may be more close to the great depth of human ancestral experience than I have ever been before — simply out in a field gathering wild fruit.

This line of thought leads me to think how wild fruit can be so scarce and so small, and what an amazing thing all of our cultivated plant varieties with fat, juicy fruits are.

And then sometimes I get a big surprise. I’ve been familiar with flax seeds as a food source for quite some time, and even bought a bottle of flax oil recently. I knew the pretty blue flower was called flax, and yet when we went to collect seed from Linum lewisii, blue flax, I was struck by how its seed looked nearly the same as flax seed that can be bought in the store!


Linum lewisii with fruit

With this in mind, I look forward to hunting and gathering Eriogonum (buckwheat), Helianthus (sunflower), and hopefully at least one fleshy, sweet berry! Luckily we have already scouted a large population of Rubus parviflorus (thimbleberry), a relative of raspberry I was shocked to find so far from Oregon, where I know it as one of my favorites.

Laura Holloway

Santa Fe (New Mexico State Office), BLM


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