Wild Muskoka Botanicals is the producer of artisan wild foods and cocktail mixers. Our ingredients are locally foraged in a sustainable manner, and then hand-produced on a small scale in an effort to maintain our focus on providing high quality products made with ecological integrity. Wild Muskoka Botanicals is based out of our health certified production kitchen and Wild Spirit Permaculture Homestead on the western edge of Algonquin Park. It exists to reconnect people with the natural world and to promote health and wellness through incorporating wild plants and traditional herbal medicines back into people’s modern lives.
Our products are produced at health certified kitchen in downtown Huntsville. We also deliver high quality wild foraging and basic herbal preparation workshops throughout Ontario. Laura has over 9 years of experience providing classes and plant walks for various wilderness survival schools, outdoor centers, colleges and other community groups.
Laura Gilmour – Founder, Forager, Kitchen Witch
Laura Gilmour has always lived a life connected to nature. She is a woman of mixed British, French and Anishinaabe Algonquin ancestry born in the Niagara Region in a rural farming area. She grew up learning about plants while playing on her grandparents’ farm, and while being taken on plant walks by the Italian woman who used to take care of her. Her family moved to Muskoka when she was 11, and Laura fell in love with the landscape and plants of the area. She became fascinated with wild plants as food and as medicine, and began experimenting and learning. After studying Environmental Technology at Fleming College, Laura spent several years learning sustainable agriculture and herbalism in Western Canada and the U.S., and earned a Permaculture Design Certification in California. While interning on permaculture farms, Laura learned about all aspects of gardening, and also wild foods harvesting and herbal medicine preparation, as well as planting food forests, learning about mushroom cultivation, and animal husbandry.
Laura has developed a passion for traditional living skills and has spent years learning wilderness arts such as basket making, traditional hide tanning, and friction fire making. As well she has developed strong naturalist skills and worked for several years as an environmental consultant refining her botanical identification skills for Central Ontario species, performing large scale ecological mapping, developing ecological restoration plans, conducting and wildlife research. She is a level III certified wildlife tracker in track and sign. identification and has applied these skills through assisting in research of Eastern Wolves and Lynx. But the thing that she was always most passionate about was working with plants. For over 15 years she has been learning how to prepare wild foods, make her own medicines and this empowered her in her ability to sustain herself from the land she lives on.
Laura is a community herbalist, and focuses her formulas on safe and effective remedies to maintain health and vitality. Her herbal education came both from incredible herbalist mentors and the wealth of knowledge to be found in books and through online courses, with lots of experimenting, some grand successes and learning opportunities in her failures. She is passionate about the ability of plants to maintain overall health and vitality, and to improve quality of life. Laura likes to use primarily wild plants in her herbal concoctions because she believes that plants that grow in your native region hold important medicine for the people who live on that land. She also brings in herbs from other regions that have been studied extensively and are known to be especially effective, and that will often enhance the actions of native herbs – combining the best of what’s here with the best of what comes from around the globe. In her workings with wild foods, Laura’s more than five years working as an ecologist, identifying and researching wild native plants, has a major influence. She understands not only where the plants grow, but why they grow there and their relationships with each other and other species. She understands how to responsibly forage plants in a way that ensures the will be there in the long term.
Laura is a guest instructor for herbalism skills and wild edible plants as well as primitive skills with the p.i.n.e. project, Sticks & Stones Wilderness School, Earth Tracks Outdoor School, and is a co-founder of Heartwood Gathering. She has also teaches occasionally at Sir Sandford Fleming College. When she’s not working with plants, she’s tracking wolves, making baskets, playing the banjo and tending to her homestead. Wild Spirit Permaculture Homestead is located near the small village of Dwight in northeast Muskoka and is connected to the vast wildlands adjacent to Algonquin Park. Here Laura lives with her husband and dog Marley, they grow vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, keep chickens. Their land is the teaching location for the Wild Medicine Program. Laura’s dream for Wild Muskoka and her work as a mentor is to help people to redevelop their connection to nature and the wildness within us all.
“As dreams are the healing songs from the wilderness of our unconscious – So wild animals, wild plants, wild landscapes are the healing dreams from the deep singing mind of the earth.”
Artisan wild foods and cocktail mixers