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Mary Goddard
Mary Goddard

Mary Goddard was interviewed on October 18, 2022 by Stefani Burich via Zoom. Mary was in Sitka, Alaska and Stefani was in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, Mary talks about her harvesting and use of traditional plants for food and for medicine. She talks about learning about plants, and specific plants she uses for food and medicine, such as elderberries, bladderwrack and black seaweed, usnea lichen, spruce tips, yarrow, and Labrador tea. Mary also expresses concerns about overharvesting and shares observations of effects of climate change.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2021-02-33

Project: Ethnobotany, Ethnomedicine and Traditional Healing
Date of Interview: Oct 18, 2022
Narrator(s): Mary Goddard
Interviewer(s): Stefanie Burich
Transcriber: Ruth Sensenig
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Ethnobotany Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Alternate Transcripts
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Early memories of harvesting and drying black seaweed

Realizing that plants were both food and medicine

Using elderberries and elderberry flowers for tinctures and medicinal purposes

Learning about plants from books, from Elders, and from experience

Medicinal use of usnea (lichen)

Developing a relationship with a new plant, experimentation, and use of dear heart greens

Harvesting from the forest, and harvesting techniques

Protection from overharvesting

Harvesting conditions, types of berries harvested, and seasonal changes

Changes in the weather

Harvesting and use of bladderwrack seaweed

Harvesting and use of different kinds of seaweed

Ocean pollution, and drying, storing, and preserving seaweed

Harvesting plants in the winter

Medicinal plants

Preserving berries, using Labrador tea, and making salves

Harvesting and use of spruce

Use of yarrow to keep bugs away

Experimenting with plants, being careful of poisonous plants, and learning the best time to harvest a plant

Learning one or two plants a year, and keep experimenting with timing of harvest and preparation techniques

Deciding which plants to focus on

Using her blog (, and thoughts for the future

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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


STEFANIE BURICH: Today is October 18, 2022. I’m Stefanie Burich, and I’m here with Mary Goddard. We are on Zoom. I’m calling in from Anchorage, Alaska, and Mary is calling in from Sitka, Alaska. Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed today.

As you know, we will be talking about the various uses of plants, and this and other recordings regarding ethnobotany and ethnomedicine will become part of the oral history collection at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and will be placed online in an ethnobotany Project Jukebox hosted by the university.

So Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story today. Let’s start with traditional introductions. Can you please ground us in where you are from and who your family is, your name and the name of your parents and grandparents, and where they are from?

MARY GODDARD: Well, my name is Mary Goddard, and um, I am living in Sitka right now, um, home of the Tlingit -- Tlingit haa'anee (sp?).

And I am originally from Yakutat, and I am Tlingit, Eagle-Brown Bear. I’m Kaagwaantaan. And I run a food blog called Forest Fresh Alaska with my family.

STEFANIE BURICH: Thank you so much. And can you tell us about your first memories of plants, working with plants, playing with plants, um, when you grew up?

MARY GODDARD: Oh, that’s a fun one. Um, yeah. Geez, early memories. I would say early memories would probably be drying black seaweed with my parents or with my family, going out harvesting.

You know, it was something that my grandmother really loved eating was the black seaweed, and, of course, we really enjoyed it growing up as well.

And so, we would go out and harvest black seaweed, and then we would, on a sunny day, hopefully the day was sunny, we would put sheets out on boards and spread the seaweed out and let it sun dry.

STEFANIE BURICH: And then what would you do with the seaweed?

MARY GODDARD: So with the black seaweed, it was something that we would just eat as a snack growing up.

And then I remember, um, you know, later on when I got a little bit older, my -- my parents would sell it as well, you know. Either use it as a trade or sell it to people that weren’t able to go out and harvest black seaweed.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow, that’s fun. That sounds wonderful. And how old were you when you realized that plants were both food and medicine, what would you say?

MARY GODDARD: Oh, you know, that’s a really good question. Um, so we grew up with, you know, a lot of subsistence living, you know, living off, you know, fish and moose meat and some plants like seaweed, like black and red.

But I also would visit family in Missouri, and the plants were so different there that it was one of the things that drew me into learning more about plants.

So probably in my elementary, late elementary school years, I would, you know, just pick up books and start learning just a little bit. I just always had a curiosity, a curiosity about it.

STEFANIE BURICH: And what was one of the first plants that called out to you to explore more?

MARY GODDARD: Hm, well, when I came back to Alaska -- So I came back to Alaska, gosh about 2010, 2011, and it’s then that I really started getting into the plants in Southeast Alaska.

And um, I think one of the -- I’m trying to think of one of the first plants, but one that I was really intrigued with was elderberries, because it was one that my grandmother used to make syrup growing up.

And knowing that elderberries was a very, you know, popular plant in today’s, like, homeopathic medicines, I just wanted to learn a little bit more.

And so, from there, um, I actually make tinctures out of the elderberry flowers and out of the elderberries to use as medicine during cold season.

And uh, you know, I’ve really found that the elderberry flowers make a more efficient tincture than the berries. In my experience.

STEFANIE BURICH: How so? Tell me more about that, if you don’t mind.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, I mean, the flavor of course is different, but it seems like when I make the tinctures out of the flowers that it fights the colds better. And this is just from my personal experience.

And then the berries, it seems like it works, but not as well, maybe not as efficient. And so if I can, you know, each summer I like to get the elderberry flowers and make a tincture to have on hand.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow, that’s interesting. Um, how do you make the tincture?

MARY GODDARD: You know, I know there’s a couple of different ways to make tinctures, but I kind of do it the -- the simple way. So you just grab a big jar, and you shove the jar full of the elderberry flowers or the berries, depending on what you’re doing, and um, you know, how --

If the flowers or berries, always make sure that they’re washed, or that with the flowers, they set out just a little bit. Shake ’em off, make sure there’s no bugs on there.

And then you pour 80-proof vodka over the flowers or over the berries until it fills the jar, and you screw the lid on tight, and you shake it twice a day for six weeks. And you keep it in a dark place.

And that extracts all those medicinable, um, medicinal goodness, I guess, from the berries or the flowers.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow, that’s wonderful. Can you tell me something about your teachers and mentors who would’ve taught you some of those things?

MARY GODDARD: Hm. You know, I guess, you know, when it came to gathering seaweed, my parents did that and taught us, and same with berry picking.

But as far as having any mentors or teachers when it comes to other foraged plants, I don’t really have any. It was just a lot of books. Like, uh, one that I really liked was Janice Schofield’s book on discovering wild plants. That was a really good go-to.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, I think that’s a classic. MARY GODDARD: It is. Everyone needs that one in their library. STEFANIE BURICH: Yes. MARY GODDARD: Hm. Absolutely.

STEFANIE BURICH: Do you have any other books or booklets or websites that you like to reference?

MARY GODDARD: Um, gosh, now there’s becoming more and more, but like, you know, even ten years ago, there wasn’t seemingly too much out there.

Um, let’s see, what’s another book? I have a couple on my bookshelf, let me see. "The Boreal Herbal," that one’s good. Oh, and let me look at this name real quick, hold on. Um, "Plant Lore of an Alaskan Islander." That one’s good. Um, and then what else?

There’s some things I did learn from some Tlingit Elders. Which I wouldn’t remember who they are, but I just remember at some various points of my life here, you know, Tlingit Elders pointing out different plants and their medicinal benefits.

You know, one in particular I could remember, you know, I make jewelry, and I was using usnea (pale grayish-green lichen commonly called old man's beard) as a filler for my jewelry boxes, because they didn’t -- it didn’t snag on the spruce root jewelry that I made.

And a Tlingit Elder had come up and said, "Oh, you’re giving everyone medicine." You know. And she explained to me that boiling usnea as a tea was really good for the respiratory system, and it was something that she did growing up.


MARY GODDARD: And so I don’t know if -- if you’ve ever tried usnea. STEFANIE BURICH: I have not, no.

MARY GODDARD: But when you make it, it does very much taste like a medicine. You know, it’s really important because of, um, I forget the, like uraic acid (usnic acid) or there’s something in the usnea that you have to blanch out first.

So when you first get the usnea, you blanch it, and then you boil it for about ten minutes to make a tea, and it does taste like medicine, so I always suggest mixing it with a little honey and a little orange juice, and it kind of, um, takes away some of that bitterness.

STEFANIE BURICH: Just to make it a little more palatable? MARY GODDARD: Yeah. I -- my goodness, but --

STEFANIE BURICH: I find it fascinating that -- you know, what you were saying earlier. You know, your one observation with the elderberries and the flowers of the elderberries and, you know, picking up things from members in the community.

With your exper -- in your experience, do you work with plants and -- Like, how do you learn about plants? I guess my question.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah. STEFANIE BURICH: If it’s not from others, just for yourself. How do you develop a relationship with a plant, and how do you, um, I guess get to know a plant?

MARY GODDARD: Oh, I love that you said that 'cause I just recently had a chat with Matt Goff who does like Sitka nature photos, and he does a -- he does like a -- not a podcast, but he does a radio show on Raven Radio, and we've talked about getting to know your neighbors, which are, you know, your plants.

And it’s true. It’s one of those things that typically how I try to learn about it is pick one a year that I’m highly interested in, one or two, and get to know it that year.

Like, ok, when is it spreading out, when is it ready to be harvested, you know, and then experimenting a little bit more with it.

Um, so like one of the plants I did that with was the deer heart greens. And uh, that was a plant that another Tlingit Elder woman was just showing me. She was like, "Hey, you can eat these. We used to nibble on these as we would, you know, walk on trails."

And if you go into any book or online, there’s no reference that you -- that people eat Deer Heart greens. You know, I think there’s one website that mentions eating the berries. And I always laugh about that, because I feel like the berries are the least palatable of the whole plant.

And um, with the deer heart greens, just experimenting. Like ok, do they taste better when they first come up? You know, you’re -- you're experiencing it all, because there’s sometimes nobody that’s really teaching you. Is it better to be cooked? Is it better to be dried?

Um, you know, and so we’ve developed some really fun recipes just with the deer heart greens. You know, making a pesto with them. Using it later in the season when the leaves are really big and beautiful. Using them to wrap fillets of -- or cuts of salmon and baking with it.

Our last -- since, you know, right now it’s October, so the end of the season, the stalks are really big, and the leaves are pretty much, you know, gone. They’re not good to be eaten right now, but the stalks taste very much like a celery or a vegetable like, yeah, like a celery.

It has a little different taste, but that’s how we’ve been using it. So just discovering and -- and um, experimenting along the way.

STEFANIE BURICH: That’s a -- that's amazing. I don’t think I’ve heard of deer heart greens, and the recipes. MARY GODDARD: Yeah. Yeah. STEFANIE BURICH: It’s fun.

MARY GODDARD: You’ll have to check it out on Forest Fresh. I mean, it’s such a beautiful little plant. It’s kind of like a -- it will -- it will cover the forest floor, and typically you’ll find them around ferns. STEFANIE BURICH: Ok.

MARY GODDARD: And they -- they spread pretty fast, so once you, you know, once you get them, it seems like you’ll have a good little patch of 'em.

STEFANIE BURICH: Do you -- do you, um, propagate plants? Would you plant plants in certain areas just so you know where to harvest them in the future?

MARY GODDARD: You know, I don’t, but only because I have access to so much land. Like even our backyard.

We have a pretty amazing backyard, where it’s, you know, the forest is right behind us, and so if I wanted to get, you know, fiddleheads or deer heart greens or devil’s club, or -- a lot of these plants are right there in my backyard. So there’s not too much work I have to do.

STEFANIE BURICH: Amazing. That’s --

MARY GODDARD: Really, I mean, I have an elderberry tree. I have huckleberries. I feel pretty lucky. I have quite a bit of amazing plants just in my backyard.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah. Yeah. And you don’t want to trade it in for a lawn? MARY GODDARD: No. Absolutely not. STEFANIE BURICH: No.

MARY GODDARD: We do have a little spot that’s a lawn, but, you know, for the most part.

STEFANIE BURICH: No, that’s wonderful. Um, can you share some of your harvesting techniques, since you talked about going out and harvesting? Any protocols or any, um, principles that you follow?

MARY GODDARD: Sure. Yeah, I think that if you understand the plant, just knowing, like, how to harvest it. You know, like if -- if you are harvesting greens or, you know, is not ripping them up by the root, just like, you know, cutting them.

Like if it’s fiddleheads, you can -- you can cut the fiddleheads off or pinch them off, and they’ll continue growing.

And then, not taking everything. So like, if there’s a big cluster of fiddleheads that are coming up, not taking all of them, just taking some sparingly and moving on to the next patch.

And so, yeah, and just -- and just being mindful of what you take, you utilize.

And what else? What’s another practice? You know, I heard with usnea -- I interviewed this lady a while ago, and she had said with usnea -- She’s like, oh, we only harvest it when it’s, like, I think it was like, when it was -- and it’s funny, I can’t remember if it was rainy or sunny, but she had a thing where she only harvested if it was sunny or rainy, whatever it was that she chose.

Um, but I -- I try to just harvest it when I need it, you know, or if I’m going to utilize it right away.

Um, currently we’re at this phase of not over-extracting when it comes to our plants and our berries. Like, we’re just at that awareness stage.

And so, I feel as we grow, and if this becomes an industry, um, here in Alaska and people are harvesting and foraging a lot more, that policies will probably have to be in place. But currently, I feel like we’re still just at that discovery stage.

STEFANIE BURICH: Right, where it’s still somewhat sustainable for people to go out and -- and play and harvest and -- MARY GODDARD: Yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: What do you think -- what kind of policies do you have in mind? Do you have an idea?

MARY GODDARD: Oh, you know, I just remember a couple of years ago speaking at a plant conference in Anchorage, and they’d asked -- Like someone was appalled that we didn’t have certain things in place, like you could only harvest this much, or you have to have a permit.

And um, it kind of, you know, really brought to my awareness that there is places that can be overharvested.

However, right now we’re at the point of, you know, salmonberries and huckleberries go rotten on the vine or rotten on the branches before people pick them.

You know, people are still buying berries in the store instead of going out and harvesting what’s right in their backyard.

Um, because of maybe they don’t have the education of these are actually good for you, they’re not poisonous. You know, there’s -- I think there’s this huge education piece that is still highly needed where we live.

And then, should there, you know, come a point of, um, this has to be managed and, you know, put those things into place.


MARY GODDARD: I guess I can think of one. Like for an example, I think it’s Norway has a cloudberry festival.

And cloudberries are so popular there that when they are ripe, there's -- the people that live in the community get -- there’s like a day, like a cloudberry festival, where this is the day you can go pick cloudberries.

You get timed, and as soon as that timer’s up, the next person gets to go pick. So we’re not quite, you know, we’re not -- STEFANIE BURICH: Wow.

MARY GODDARD: Um, not saying we couldn’t be, but right now we’re -- I feel like we’re at this phase of like encouraging people to harvest what we have here because it can provide for you. It could really sustain you.

STEFANIE BURICH: Right. We still have more natural resources than -- than people take advantage of. MARY GODDARD: Mm-hm.

STEFANIE BURICH: When it comes to plants and berries, and -- Yeah. Yeah. I live in Anchorage, and some places do get overharvested up here. You can tell. MARY GODDARD: Ok.

STEFANIE BURICH: But -- but I guess in, you know, less populated areas, that’s not yet an issue.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, and it definitely could be if people start using it for businesses, right.

Um, so I think there is some policies or some permits and stuff already in place for certain things, but not on all plants.

STEFANIE BURICH: Right. And I guess it depends on who owns the land and what are you allowed to do, and who do you need to ask permission. And yeah, there's -- Yeah, I think those are more pertinent issues in more populated areas, for sure.

MARY GODDARD: Right, yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: So I was curious when you said that you heard from this one person that they only harvest at a, you know, in certain weather conditions.

Do you have a preference or a practice, you know, harvest in the morning versus in the evening, or sunny days, rainy days? Um.

MARY GODDARD: You know, I really don’t. I think it just depends on -- for me it depends on when I have the time or, um, there’s certain plants like berries are better to be picked, you know, in -- I feel like after sunshine.

You can go pick 'em in the rain before they all fall off the branches, but if you can get ’em before it’s really rainy and before they’re bogged down with water, um, I think you -- you know, get different -- a different flavor. Or more flavor.

And then, with other plants, I really don’t have any particular times.

STEFANIE BURICH: Ok. Um, what kind of berries do you harvest? You mentioned a couple, um.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, let’s see. There’s several different berries here. We have, of course, salmonberries. We have the red huckleberries and the black huckleberries, which people call blueberries. And then we also have blueberries.

Um, growing up in Yakutat we had cranberries. Uh, we have gray currants, which are one of my favorites. We have the elderberries, which we use for medicine or for syrup.

Uh, there’s jacob's berries. There’s watermelon berries. Um, and I think that’s about it. Yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: And do they -- And I think in the Sitka area, do they ripen pretty much at around the same time, or is there a progression?

MARY GODDARD: You know, that’s a really good question. So it’s changing quite a bit. Um, and I guess it’d be from climate change, but we’ve had --

Last year was really weird. We had the huckleberries and the blueberries ripen before the salmonberries, which typically never happens.

You know, typically, you have your salmonberries and then you’ll have your huckleberries later. But last year it was just really odd. The salmonberries got ripe after the huckleberries, and I didn’t quite understand that.


MARY GODDARD: A lot of changes, for sure.

STEFANIE BURICH: What are some of the other changes you’ve noticed, if you can think of any?

MARY GODDARD: Um, it’s just not super consistent when things are ripe or ready to be harvested.

Um, I feel like the last several years with the weather changes, you don’t know when -- like I think when I first moved here, I was kind of tracking, like, when things would be ripe, trying to write it down because -- It’s not something I think about. Like when they’re ripe, I go harvest them.

But when you’re trying to teach it, you have to kind of be a little bit more mindful, right, of when this is ripe, and when -- when you can harvest it. And I feel like it’s just kind of been all over the board the last couple of years.

STEFANIE BURICH: So do you find that it’s just things ripen earlier or later every year and there’s not really any consistency anymore?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, definitely some things coming earlier, you know. Like the -- like I was saying the huckleberries last year, and then the salmonberries being later, so.

I don’t really know, um, exactly how that works, but -- And then I think, too, depends if it’s warmer in the beginning of the year, then things start, you know, coming to be. And then if it snaps back into a cold freeze, it can kind of change that season, you know.

STEFANIE BURICH: Do you start seeing patterns, like with what you just said with the weather, like where you start in the beginning of the summer, depending on what the weather’s doing, you kind of get a sense of what might happen?

MARY GODDARD: Um, that’s a good question. STEFANIE BURICH: Or is it just too much all over the place?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, I don’t want to say it’s like all over the place, but it’s definitely been a little bit different the last couple of years.

I feel like it’s been maybe a little more predictable previously, like ok, you know that, you know, come July, the salmonberries are out. Or you know, there’s some consistency, and now it doesn’t seem to be as consistent.

STEFANIE BURICH: How has the weather changed in the last few years?

MARY GODDARD: Um, we’ve seen a -- oof, kinda been all over. We had about two years ago we had some really -- we had a ton of storms in the fall time, and a lot more rain, less snow.

And the temperatures have gone up. So with that temperature rising, I think even the temperature in the oceans rising a little bit, so it changes.

Um, I’m sure even the ocean plants, like the seaweeds.

STEFANIE BURICH: Do you still harvest seaweeds?

MARY GODDARD: I do. I do. Um, you know, it kinda depends if I have the time or if I make the time to go harvest.

This year we harvested some bladderwrack, and I felt like that -- felt like it -- I could be wrong, I felt like that went longer into the season this year. Lasted a bit longer. But, yeah, we were able to harvest some bladderwrack.

And, you know, that’s a really good medicinal seaweed. So it’s one of those seaweeds that, you know, it’s not like the black or red ribbon where you can eat handfuls of it at a time. You probably eat a lot less of it than some of the other seaweeds at one time.

STEFANIE BURICH: And what was that called again? MARY GODDARD: Bladderwrack. Or common name is popweed.

STEFANIE BURICH: Bladderwrack. Ok, yes. And then, how is that -- how do you use that medicinally?

MARY GODDARD: Well, I think just eating it, right. I think you can eat it, or you can make a tea out of it. I’ve never tried it as a tea, but I have read that you can do that.

Um, we just dry it and, um, you know, you can snack on it. Or one way --

My favorite way of preparing it was, um, you know, it has a -- a jelly-like substance on the inside, and when you cook with it, it’s just -- it’s really rich.

We used it one time under the skin of a whole chicken that we baked, and it almost acted like a -- like a butter around the chicken. It was really good.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow. We’ll be -- we'll be right there for dinner.

MARY GODDARD: Right? Come on over.

But it’s just interesting, 'cause like, when you experiment with the different seaweeds or the different plants, you know, that’s something that I kind of learned just through experimenting that with bladderwrack, when you cook with it you use a whole lot less. You almost treat it like a -- like a fat, like a butter.

Um, whereas some of the other seaweeds, you treat as a vegetable, right? Like a whole lot more to dish. It’s really palatable and delicious. And where some of the stronger seaweeds like that bladderwrack, you would use a whole lot less.

STEFANIE BURICH: Right, and that makes sense. And then what are some of the medicinal qualities of the bladderwrack?

MARY GODDARD: I know it’s good for thyroid functions, so if you have any thyroid issues, a lot of people homeopathically would use that.

The amounts I’m not sure, but I know that’s one thing that it’s supposed to have been really good for.

STEFANIE BURICH: That’s awesome. And tell me about some of the other seaweeds you’re using. Like I’m again, you know, up here in Anchorage, seaweeds is not really that popular here. MARY GODDARD: Yeah, um.

STEFANIE BURICH: At least in my harvesting world, so yeah, tell me more about seaweeds.

MARY GODDARD: Well, the black seaweed is, you know, really traditional. It’s just so delicious, and it’s a nice, hearty seaweed.

And then there’s red ribbon seaweed, which a lot of people add to their soups.

And then one of my favorites is sea lettuce, and it’s so different because it’s a really, like, really dry sea lettuce. It’s like almost just crumbles, and it’s just light, and it can dissolve in your mouth.

And um, you know, so all the different seaweeds. There’s like kelp, right? Kelp is a very different seaweed than sea lettuce or black seaweed. And uh, kelp is treated differently than black seaweed.

Um, a lot of people create kelp pickles or relishes or make sauces out of it. And um, with the sea lettuce, it’s just wonderful to sprinkle on things and use it kind of as a seasoning. Um, yeah, that’s I guess some of 'em.

STEFANIE BURICH: Is there a time of the year when you like to harvest seaweeds?

MARY GODDARD: Typically, it’s springtime. You know, early spring is when you can go harvest, and it just depends on the length and if it’s ready to be cut.

And then kelp is a little bit different, because rather than going at low tide and -- and cutting from, you know, the rocks, you’d go out and um -- You would harvest from your boat.

You know, you’d be able to see where those kelp forests are and be able to, um, gather and harvest some from the actual ocean.

STEFANIE BURICH: Take us out on a -- on a -- if you will, on a little journey here of harvesting seaweeds at low tide. What does that look like?

What kind of tools do you use? It’s early spring. You’re going out. It’s low tide. What -- what does that look like?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, you know, we would just take buckets or trash bags and scissors or a knife, and, you know, you just don’t want to -- You want to give it a -- You know, you -- I guess you'd go out and you'd pull up the seaweed, and you would -- instead of rip it from the holdfast, you would just cut it.

And then, uh -- or you can use scissors. Just so you don’t rip the kind of the -- yeah, the holdfast of it.

And same thing with, like, um, bladderwrack. If you go at low tide and harvest bladderwrack, you would just -- You would cut some of the fronds, and again, being mindful, not picking all of -- all of the seaweed in that patch, but taking a little bit from each and kind of moving on so you don’t deplete the harvest.

STEFANIE BURICH: Ok, and then you have your bucket full of seaweed. What do you do then?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, after that, you go down -- You bring your bucket, and you kind of rinse that seaweed in the saltwater. And you want to make sure with your seaweeds that you’re rinsing it in the saltwater, not like fresh water, because it can kind of break down the seaweed.

And then that saltwater, of course, when you dry it, you know, it keeps with all that salty flavor. And um, you just want to rinse off any, you know, little shells or little bugs that are in the seaweed.

STEFANIE BURICH: And you do that right with the ocean water on the beach? MARY GODDARD: Yeah. STEFANIE BURICH: Ok.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah. We just wash it in buckets and then take it home and dry it.

STEFANIE BURICH: Amazing. That’s awesome. That’s such a great resource to have available. MARY GODDARD: Yeah. Very lucky.

STEFANIE BURICH: And are there any concerns about just pollution of the oceans and how that might affect your seaweed harvests and products?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, for sure it’s something I think about. I mean, you know, I was out gathering some seaweed just for my, um, for a garden the other day, and um, you know, you’re just getting seaweed that’s washed up. It’s nothing that you’re harvesting fresh for your garden.

Um, but, you know, there was some trash that I saw there, and I thought, oh man, wouldn’t that be kind of a shame to scoop this up and you’re planting your garden and you find a plastic fork or a mask or something gross, you know, so -- STEFANIE BURICH: Right.

MARY GODDARD: It -- it definitely is a concern.

STEFANIE BURICH: And then when you dry your seaweed, you just store it in -- How do you store it?

MARY GODDARD: Um, I store it in like plastic ziploc bags in a dark spot. Or sometimes I use jars, a big jar. And I just keep it in a -- it’s like any other dried food. You just want to store it in a cool, dark spot.

STEFANIE BURICH: And how long does it last? MARY GODDARD: Well, depends on -- STEFANIE BURICH: Like, how long -- yeah, sorry.

MARY GODDARD: It depends on who’s in your house and eating your seaweed.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, I realize I didn’t ask that right. Um, how long does it stay fresh or remain edible?

MARY GODDARD: You know, probably about a year. You can probably get two years out of it as long as it really stays dry.

I don’t know if you’ve seen those little, like, stay-dry packs, that kind of absorb humidity or absorb --

STEFANIE BURICH: Oh, yeah, yeah. Silicon packs, or --

MARY GODDARD: Yeah. You can stick some of those in with your seaweed, and it’ll help it last longer.

STEFANIE BURICH: Oh, that’s a great idea.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah. Um, but yeah, I think it starts losing its flavor after a year. You know, with most things, the fresher it is, the better it is.

STEFANIE BURICH: Right. Um, is there anything that you harvest during the winter?

MARY GODDARD: Good question. You know, we’re in falltime right now, and there’s not really too much to -- to harvest in the winter, but it was really fun, we just went out as a family, um, inspired by the show "Chef vs. Wild."

We have a -- my husband and I have a seven-year-old, and he watched that show with us, and it’s all about what can you forage in the winter. And can you survive? And can you make a gourmet meal out of it?

And so, we actually went down to the beach and harvested some limpets, and there was still a little bit of beach greens that were still palatable. And we got -- what else did we get?

We got spruce to make tea, and usnea. We got deer heart green stalks. Like the deer heart greens, the big stalks of them, and used that.

Um, there was still some dandelion greens. There was actually quite a bit that we were able to forage for and make a meal out of.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow, that’s amazing.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, it was a lot of fun to, you know, kind of figure out what you can utilize this time of year.

STEFANIE BURICH: And it’s so great that your seven-year-old grows up with all that knowledge and just being surrounded by the practice of harvesting plants and, yeah.

MARY GODDARD: And he really -- he really loves it, so it makes it fun.

STEFANIE BURICH: Um, do you have any specific plants you use medicinally throughout the year, and what would you use them for?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, let’s see.

STEFANIE BURICH: We talked a little bit about usnea and a little bit about some of the seaweed. Is there anything --

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, I think -- So I think the -- there’s a -- some that I really rely on. One, you know, is we talked about the elderberry, making tinctures out of the elderberry flowers. I think that one’s really big.

Usnea tea, you know, especially during COVID. It was like, oh man, we can -- we should be utilizing this because it really helps with respiratory issues.

And then the other one would be, I guess, horsetail herb. Um, you know, that one’s really good for your joints. It’s good for your hair. It’s good for your --

You know, um, I guess the nickname would be like athletes’ tea. You know, it kind of helps lubricate your joints and replace that cartilage in between.

And so, that’s a really easy, easy plant to identify and to make a tea out of and just incorporate, whether it’s tea or soup, into -- into your meals. Or your lifestyle, I guess.

STEFANIE BURICH: How do you harvest Horsetail? And when and how do you process it?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, so there’s a couple of different -- so some people believe that you should harvest it early, just like most spring herbs.

Um, but then another theory is that you harvest it later in the season, which would be late summer, when it’s really rich in silica, so when it’s really, like, you know, really full.

And so, I’ve done it both ways. And I typically prefer it when it’s later in the season. I just pick it. I dry it really well. Like you want to make sure if you’re doing anything for teas that you dry it really well or use it immediately when it’s fresh.

So typically, what I do is dry it really well and then I’ll make a big pot of Horsetail tea, and I will flavor it with some honey and some lemon, and then I'll pour it over ice and make an iced tea. And it’s really similar to like a nice refreshing green tea when you drink it.

STEFANIE BURICH: It sounds delicious. MARY GODDARD: It’s pretty good, yeah. Yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: Um, also coming back to our discussion on berries. How do you preserve your berries?

MARY GODDARD: You know, I’m a big fan of freezing 'em. STEFANIE BURICH: Ok.

MARY GODDARD: Um, you know, growing up we canned 'em, you know. We pretty much canned all of our salmonberries. I also make jams and syrups and jellies.

Um, but when I’m kind of in a pinch, especially for time, I just wash ’em, I freeze ’em, and then I incorporate them into our meals.

STEFANIE BURICH: And -- All right. Do you ever use herbs for like sauna or steam baths, or do you -- Is that big in Southeast?

MARY GODDARD: You know, it’s really not, not that I know of. I’m trying to think.

Um, I guess there’s one -- one when I think of -- Maybe I haven’t used it in a steam bath, but for some reason when you talked about it, it made me think of Labrador Tea. STEFANIE BURICH: Oh, ok.

MARY GODDARD: That’s a really medicinal tea, and it has just this like, fragrant smell to it.

And I think with like some of these plants, it's -- you get to know them through smell. And it’s one of those just kind of like invigorating smells.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, if there was a way of bottling up scents. MARY GODDARD: Right.

STEFANIE BURICH: Labrador Tea and Poplar would -- would be the two that I would, um, yeah, store forever.

MARY GODDARD: Which one did you say? I missed it. Which one?

STEFANIE BURICH: Uh, Labrador Tea and Poplar. MARY GODDARD: Oh, yeah. STEFANIE BURICH: Put Poplar buds in there.

MARY GODDARD: I’m sure there is. There’s been more people making salves. You know, like Devil’s Club salves. STEFANIE BURICH: Right.

MARY GODDARD: And birch salve and different salves. So I’m sure there’s a -- I’m sure there’s a way.

STEFANIE BURICH: Labrador Tea. Yeah, I was reminded of -- I mean, in Southeast, you have all these big Spruce trees. Do you do anything with those?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, in the -- you know, spring, we harvest the tips. And you can use, you know, Spruce tips in baking or making a Spruce tip syrup or making a Spruce tip honey, or um --

Let’s see, we just did -- we just harvested some Spruce the other day with some Licorice Fern root and made an iced tea. So that was, you know, that was fun.

STEFANIE BURICH: And what root was that? Sorry. MARY GODDARD: Um, Licorice Fern root. STEFANIE BURICH: Oh, ok.

MARY GODDARD: And it’s -- you know, it’s something that I haven’t really actually experimented with, but if you eat the root, or if you just have a tiny little taste of it, it’s really strong of licorice.

Um, so we decided to use it a little bit and boil it with the Spruce branch and make a tea and --

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow, that sounds amazing.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, and speaking of saunas, I did hear that -- so during the pandemic, we had read like Spruce kinda wards off a lot of the germs and the bacteria. That people back in the day would burn the Spruce branches.

So we would go outside in our outdoor fire pit and put Spruce branches, and that’s supposed to kind of help clean the air.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wow, ok. I did not know that. MARY GODDARD: Yeah. And it smelled really good, too. STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, I bet it smells really good. MARY GODDARD: Mm, yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: I guess people have burned the pitch to keep bugs away and use it as fire starters, and yeah.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah. I guess, yeah. When you said keep bugs away, Yarrow is another medicinal plant. That helps like, oh, what was it?

You can smell. It keeps bugs away, so typically when we’re walking around outside, we’ll grab a little piece of the Yarrow and tuck it behind our ears.

We'll, you know, kind of break it up so the oils come out, and you can smell it. And that’s another really good smelling plant that’s very distinct. And it’s supposed to keep bugs away.

STEFANIE BURICH: Well, that’s a better alternative than DEET, I guess. MARY GODDARD: Right? STEFANIE BURICH: Dissolving all of your clothes from DEET. MARY GODDARD: That’s --

STEFANIE BURICH: All right, do you have -- do you have any other plants that come to mind that you would like to share with us today?

MARY GODDARD: Man, there’s so many different plants. I think that’s the thing, is like when it comes to plant, let your curiosity take you.

Just be mindful of the ones that are poisonous. You know, I think I -- it’s good to really understand, um, your poisonous plants first. Or maybe not first, but before you start harvesting other plants, because then you’re aware of which ones you should steer -- steer clear of. You know, experimenting is good, but if you’re experimenting with a poisonous plant, not so good.

Um, and then also what I’ve learned about plants in Alaska, or at least here, is that plants typically have different times where they can be harvested for food. Different time they can be harvested for medicine, and another time that you probably don’t want to harvest them.

And so, knowing that the more you get to know a plant, the more you understand the best time it is to harvest it when it’s most palatable, when it’s most beneficial to be used for medicine. And that’s just something that will come with utilizing the plant and really learning about it.

STEFANIE BURICH: And that is specific for each plant? Or there is some broad general principles across the board that you’ve noticed?

MARY GODDARD: I feel like it’s kinda just, speci -- like -- like broad across the board. Like if -- if you’re learning about a plant, there’s typically going to be a time that you can harvest it and another time that you should not harvest it, because it will either, one, not taste good, or it’s not gonna -- Or it’s going to upset your stomach.

Or, you know, there’s different -- different plants have different benefits, I guess.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, yeah, and seasonally I think their qualities change. MARY GODDARD: Right. Yeah. Absolutely.

STEFANIE BURICH: I guess one example that comes to mind is Nettle. I think I hear that you’re not supposed to harvest Nettle for internal use once it starts flowering. MARY GODDARD: Mm. STEFANIE BURICH: Um, and -- MARY GODDARD: Yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, you can still use it for other external purposes.

MARY GODDARD: Right. And then -- and I think, too, one misconception I hear a lot is, oh, that plant’s poisonous. Where it’s, maybe the plant’s not poisonous, but it’s just about harvesting it correctly.

You know, like there’s wild Indian Celery that you can harvest, but if you don’t peel the outer layer, it can, you know, irritate your skin.

Or like Elderberries, people are like, oh, they’re poisonous. Elderberries are not poisonous whole, however, their seeds can be, you know, toxic, so you want to make sure your seeds are not in your syrup.

So it’s not just about knowing if those plants are edible, but it’s also how to properly harvest them.

STEFANIE BURICH: Oh, that is a really good point, yeah. Certain aspects of a plant might be poisonous, but it doesn’t mean the whole plant is poisonous. Or at a certain time of the year, it might be poisonous or toxic, but not the entire --


MARY GODDARD: Yeah, it’s just like Fiddleheads, right? Like people harvest ferns or Fiddleheads, and if you cook them and break them down, break down the enzymes properly, it’s a very delicious side dish or addition to your meal.

But if you don’t cook 'em properly, it can leave you with a bad stomachache, so -- Just learning those things.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, and you can learn those things from books and from Elders or teachers who have been using plants for a long time or experience.

MARY GODDARD: Yes. Absolutely.

STEFANIE BURICH: Spending time with plants, and -- I like your approach of picking one or two plants a year and exploring and developing your relationship with that one plant throughout the year.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, and then it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. 'Cause like if you look at, like, living in the rain forest, there’s so many different plants. STEFANIE BURICH: Right.

MARY GODDARD: And if you’re trying to learn it all, it can be really overwhelming, so just try to focus on one or two and taking your time with it, um, I think is beneficial.

STEFANIE BURICH: Did you have a plant this year?

MARY GODDARD: Gosh, you know, this year was a whole different ballgame. Let me see, the one thing that I experimented a little bit more with this year was Bladderwrack.

And so, just eating it raw, tasting it raw, trying it different ways, just seeing how I liked it.

And believe it or not, I was really surprised on really how nutty and good it was eating it raw. I don’t know why, but it was odd to me, but that was really good.

And then, um, we did -- we tried it one way this year with -- we used a coconut sugar, and we made almost like a caramel sauce over it and dried it that way. And it was so good.


MARY GODDARD: We did another one with like a jerk seasoning, and, yeah, my son wanted to just keep eating.

He was just grabbing them and eating them, and I’m like, "Ok, just a little bit." Because, you know, it’s more potent of a plant. But it was really good.

STEFANIE BURICH: Ah, it sounds amazing.

MARY GODDARD: And it was, you know, the funny thing is, it was kind of one of my least favorite seaweeds, and so I thought, ok, let me try and experiment a little bit with this and see.

And sometimes I think with plants, you know, you either try it one way with just one traditional way or one way that you’ve learned, and -- and you stop there.

But what we try to do with Forest Fresh is like, really push the envelope on what can you do with it. Really experiment with it, because then you can really kind of see, you know, how delicious is it? Is it palatable? Is it -- you know, how do you want to best prepare it? So that’s the exciting part.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, and I love that. I love that experimenting and playing and just, yeah, trying different ways. MARY GODDARD: Yeah. STEFANIE BURICH: That maybe other people haven’t -- haven't used. MARY GODDARD: Right.

STEFANIE BURICH: Um, how do you pick your plant? Like, how do you decide which plant to use, or to focus on during the year?

MARY GODDARD: You know, normally it’s something that presents itself to me. Like -- like if all of a sudden, I’m noticing this plant, or, you know, like, oh, I’ve overlooked this plant, or this --

You know, like, what was it last year I was trying to learn? I didn’t really learn that much about it or experiment much, but I’m still really curious about it, which is the Witch’s Butter, or the Jelly Fungus.

You know, we kept seeing it. My son and I kept seeing it everywhere when we’d go outside for a walk. And just learning that it’s really medicinable, and it shrinks, you know, tumors with the studies that they found, and just learning, um, those things are really intriguing.

So it’s typically a plant that I maybe haven’t -- I’ve overlooked or I didn’t notice, and all of a sudden it’s appearing everywhere or it’s on my mind. And that’s -- I just kind of go where my curiosity takes me.

STEFANIE BURICH: That’s great. Um. And then you also said that when you talked about the Bladderwrack that it wasn’t your favorite seaweed.

And yet you wanted to explore more and see if it’s -- if you can turn it into something that you would love. Um, and recipes.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s just thinking, ok, why was it? Is it because I prepared it incorrectly? Did I get it at the wrong time of the year? You know, um, just all those little things to be mindful of.

STEFANIE BURICH: Yeah, that’s so great. Um, ok. Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?

Anything that you would like to share? Any advice, suggestions, recommendations for the listeners?

MARY GODDARD: You know, I guess check out That’s our blog. Let us know what you’re interested in.

You know, I try to ask people that follow us from time to time, like what would you want to learn more about? And then we try to present that in a way that is -- so you can harvest this plant. This is how you can properly prepare it and make a delicious meal with it.

So if you’re interested at all, just, you know, shoot me a message and I’ll help with the research.

STEFANIE BURICH: Oh, that’s wonderful. I hope you’re gonna get a lot of inquiries. MARY GODDARD: Yeah, me too! STEFANIE BURICH: And a lot of -- MARY GODDARD: So much fun.

STEFANIE BURICH: -- great questions, yeah.

And speaking of the future generations, um, what is your one hope for the people and for your children and their children and --?

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, I guess when it comes to plants and food security in Alaska, my one wish would be that we become, um, very confident in our food production and harvesting, and that we’d be more reliant on our own communities rather than outside sources.

STEFANIE BURICH: Wonderful. That’s amazing. Ok, well, thank you so much for your time, Mary. I really appreciate having you and interviewing you and hearing from you. MARY GODDARD: Yeah.

STEFANIE BURICH: And I will be checking out your -- your blog.

MARY GODDARD: Yeah, thank you so much. Thanks for having me on here, and um, it was a lot of fun. I love talking about plants and -- and, uh, especially the medicinal and edible aspects of them. So, thank you. Thanks for including me. STEFANIE BURICH: Thanks.