A Year of Foraging


My name is Annabella Sardelis. I am a plant person. Most of you know me as textile person, or a mom, I am that too.

What is a Year of Foraging you may be wondering?

Am I foraging all the food to feed my family? In short, no. I do not have time to run a business and forage for food on that level. I am no Barbara Kingsolver, and this is not Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (perhaps one day). When I began to explore the world of naturally dyed textiles five years ago I began to wonder, what does Minnesota look like thru the lens of botanical color? 

Over the course of a year I want to forage, cultivate and dye with plants that are both native and invasive (buckthorn) to see what Minnesota looks like in the form of natural dye plants. This includes roots, nuts, flowers and berries.

As a mom of two boys, this is a way of connecting with the land we call home and connecting with them, as I share this process  - they like foraging too.

Some of you may be wondering....so how do plants like madder root, cutch and indigo fit into this project? Because these plants are not native to Minnesota. When I first conceived of the project 5 years ago, my initial idea was completely focused on Minnesota dye plants. Over the years as I learned more about natural dyeing and had the opportunity to study with world renown natural dyers, i.e. Michel Garcia and Elin Noble I found that I kept studying but wasn't putting it into daily practice. There was resistance. As I dug deeper I also realized I would need to harvest a whole lot of juniper berries to dye 12 linen tops. I recognize that the wild spaces where I forage, this is habitat for animals that depend on those berries as a food source. I learned the 10% rule from Rebecca Burgess, whether you are foraging for food or natural dye plants, only take 10%. Buckthorn is a different story. It is an invasive species in Minnesota and you are doing a public service when you forage the berries before animals eat them and further propagate this plant via scat.

For me this project has two parts - each month I have chosen to focus on one plant to dye a collection around (this plant does not have to be native to Minnesota) and cultivate a practice of foraging for natural dye plants that will culminate in a Year of Foraging installation celebrating the botanical colors of Minnesota thru an exploration of natural dye plants.

Thanks for being here. Be well.