Ila Hatter’s Mission Statement from her site Wildcrafting
Ila Hatter’s mission is to tune people in to the many ways they can make Mother Nature’s pantry and medicine cabinet their own. Hatter does not forage the woods in the hope of making a profit. “In my case, I’m not gathering things to sell but instead am using them for education – teaching people what these plants are, how to identify them, what the traditional uses are, what the potential market might be for them. I combine my knowledge of the flora with folklore, telling interesting stories that go with the botany of what I do.” Her work is guided by a quote from writer Henry David Thoreau. “Thoreau wrote that ‘the woods and fields are a table always spread,’. To me, that’s exactly what I do – that’s what I teach.”
I love Ila Hatter. She is a wildcrafter. Have you ever heard of that. She is a descendant of Pochontas. She is known as “The Lady of the Forest”. She uses natural remedies and teaches about those plants that are beneficial. I first saw Ila on our public television station. She was so knowledgeable and has an easy voice for listening. She was holding what looked to be poison oak. I wondered what she was intending on doing with it.
You can find out what she does with the seemingly poison oak plant if you visit her site. There you can watch her demonstrate how to properly cultivate this plant from the ground. You’ll learn what it taste like. Ila tells you stories as she walks through the forest. She tells of how generations have lived off the land, how they prepared the food, and how it is still possible today.
She wears many hats and gloves. She’s an interpretive naturalist, artist, wildcrafter, and gourmet cook. She has 25 years of experience and teaches for Tennessee’s Smoky Mountain Field School.
Here is a list of her involvement in education:
Ila, known as THE LADY OF THE FOREST, is an interpretive naturalist, artist, wildcrafter, and gourmet cook with more than 25 years experience teaching the cultural heritage of native plants. She is a staff instructor for the Univ. of Tenn.’s Smoky Mtn Field School, guest instructor for the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, the John C. Campbell Folk School (Brasstown, NC), The Mountain Retreat Center (Highlands, NC), Snowbird Mtn Lodge (Robbinsville, NC), Charter Board Member of the Yellow Creek Botanical Institute; and Storyteller for Elderhostels in 3 states. She has been featured in major newspapers, magazines, and TV shows. Her distinctive skills were even sought out by CBS for the TV series “Christy”. The City of Knoxville, Tenn. commissioned Ila to coordinate and collect the natural history exhibit representing the Great Smoky Mtn. National Park in the city’s Gateway Visitor’s Center.
At her site you can oder a book about plants of the Cherokee. You can learn to live off the land. You can learn to treat some common ailments with natural ingredients.
Visit Ila Hatter’s and get a sample of why I love living in the Southern Appalachian foothills.