The Honorable Harvest
‘I honor the earth as the ultimate teacher.
I am committed to teaching in a way that protects the
When educating children in a way that frequently incorporates the elements of the earth as materials it is important for them to have a deep understanding about responsible harvesting. In this lesson, children will be introduced to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s teachings on the Honorable Harvest.
Kimmerer’s teaching on the honorable harvest is a guide to harvesting plants based on the traditions of Potawatomi and other indigenous people of Americas.
“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Watercolors or crayons.
On chart paper write out the following rules of the honorable harvest while discussing each rule with your children. Children may want to help with the writing or numbering or illustrate each rule.
Introduce yourself to the plant
Ask permission to take
Never take the first one, never take the last
Take in a way that reduces harm and provides benefit to the plant
Don’t take more than what you need, don’t take more than half
Use all of what you take
Share what you are given by the earth
Give thanks in return
Talk about how these rules apply when you are out with your child in nature using plant materials.
Your child may want to make a booklet or poster illustrating these rules. As they come to understand these rules and use them regularly, they may start to feel the responsibility to teach them to others.
Come back to the honorable harvest rules on subsequent outings out into nature especially when you are using natural material.
Practice the concept of half either out on your harvest (“Look I see 6 dandelions; how many is it okay for you to take?”) or at home using practice scenarios (“You were walking in the woods and just stumbled upon a bush with 40 wild raspberries, how many should you leave for the birds?)
Questions to ask
In what ways does the earth take care of you?
In what ways can you take care of the earth and/or show it gratitude?
Why is it important to not take the first or last plant?
Why should you use all of what you take?
How do we know if a plant gives its permission to be harvested?
After the lesson invite your child to find a tree or plant to introduce themselves too.
Practice sitting in silence and listening to trees.
Through song, tending, and care practice showing your plants gratitude.