Environmental Inspiration: The Honorable Harvest


(From Braiding Sweetgrass – Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants). This is the book chosen by the TED reading group.

The guidelines for the Honorable Harvest are not written down, or even consistently spoken of as a whole – they are reinforced in small acts of daily life. But if you were to list them, they might look something like this:

  • Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them (weed, water, gather rocks, etc.)
  • 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.


Indigenous People live their life by this rule of Honorable Harvest. At the level of human interactions, we do this. It’s what we teach our kids. If you’re visiting your sweet grandma and she offers you homemade cookies on her favorite china plate, you know what to do. You accept them with many “thank yous” and cherish the relationship. You gratefully take what has been given. You wouldn’t dream of breaking into her pantry and taking all the cookies without invitation, grabbing her china plate for good measure. That would be, at a minimum, a breach of good manners, a betrayal of the loving relationship. Your grandma would be heartbroken, and not inclined to bake more cookies for you any time soon. As a culture though, we seem unable to extend these good manners to the natural world.

The DISHONORABLE Harvest has become a way of life – we take what doesn’t belong to us and destroy it beyond repair. There are too many examples of this to list here. They are gifts from our sweet Grandmother Earth, which we take without asking. HOW DO WE FIND THE HONORABLE HARVEST AGAIN?


“It is our collective and individual responsibility … to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.” ~Dalai Lama


“All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.” ~Chief Seattle


Submitted by Parkway UCC’s Sustainability Seekers.


Image attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Braided_Sweet_Grass.jpg#filehistory

Post Date: June 16, 2022


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