Foraging Course – Welcome!

This Welcome Unit aims to:
Introduce the contents of the Urban Herbology Foraging module, the concept of urban foraging and outlines why the Foraging module focuses upon foraging urban herbs rather than other urban plants. It also explains how to work through the module.

At the end of the unit you should be able to:
- State the main topic areas which this module covers.
- State how your work for this module will be assessed.
- Organise your personal notes and assignments for this module.
- Briefly explain the concept of an Edible City.
- Define what a herb is.
- List three reasons why herb foraging may be preferable to regular foraging.

Read through the unit notes.
You may also like to listen to the welcome unit audio.

In the Foraging Module you will learn:
-How to forage safely and ethically
-A selection of practical ways to use foraged herbs
-Characteristics of nine plant families which are very useful to foragers
-Essential botany to help foragers identify plants
-An extensive list of plants which are useful to foragers
-How to actually forage the herbs
-About one plant in great detail - your Plant Ally
-The main poisonous plants and families

Module organisation
There are 28 units in the Foraging module.

You will see that the units are visually organised in blocks of five units. We suggest that you aim to complete each green block (so five units) per two months. This will help you to complete the module within one year - if that is your target.

Please note that some of the later units are available to you from the start but most will open up as you work through progressively.

Assessment of your Foraging work
At the end of each unit in this module, there are tasks to complete. Some of these are optional tasks, which you may like to complete. Others are clearly indicated as Assessed Tasks. Your responses to the Assessed Tasks need to be shared with your tutor for marking and feedback.

There are four points in the Foraging module, where you will only be able to progress to the next units, when the previous unit assessments have been successfully completed and marked by your tutor. This is to ensure that you have understood the earlier work.

Course Certificate
To qualify for your Urban Herbology Foraging certificate, you need to :
1. Work through each of the Foraging units and successfully complete all of the Assessed Tasks. These must be completed and marked as a pass by your tutor.
2. Submit a summary to your tutor, of how your journey through the Foraging module has impacted you. Your summary does not need to be very long but it needs to show me what you have gained from this module. It can be in several forms (short report, poetry, drawing with annotations etc).

How to share Assessed Tasks
Some of your assessments are shared with your tutor though the Foraging Forum and other assessments will be shared with your tutor via email.

Please ensure that each task states the unit number and name, when you send it through.

We strongly advise you to keep a backup copy of all work which you send to your tutor for marking. Please do not rely on email or the forums as a way to organize your work.

Organizing your notes and tasks
Decide on how you will make and keep personal notes as you work through this module.

You may like to begin a Google doc or purchase a notebook or ring binder to file your work and keep it organised.

There are some worksheets to complete through the module but most of the tasks will be notes sent via email or the Foraging Forum.

Sharing with the UH community
The Foraging Forum and the private Facebook group are great places to ask questions and share your thoughts with your tutor and the other students, about any of your foraging work and experiences. Please feel free to use them.

Many of your assessed tasks will be submitted to the Foraging Forum to allow for discussion with other students, to encourage deeper engagement and learning.

Lynn harvesting Tansy for herbal mosquito repellent.

Edible cities
I believe that cities should be edible environments and that city dwellers should know how to care for and use the plants. My dream is for streets to be planted with edible fruit, nut and leaf trees. In many places, this is already happening to some extent but we can do so much more! Buildings such as schools and hospitals could be obliged to incorporate fruit bushes and other edibles in their planting schemes. What a difference that could make.

If more Urbanites understood how to forage safely and sustainably, they could help to nurture the whole ecosystem and create far healthier and more pleasant places in which to live. I believe that increased urban foraging will act as a driver to further clean and improve towns and cities. When you eat from an area, you want it to be clean...

Since talking about this in a TEDx talk a few years ago, I feel that the tide is really turning and many people, all over the world are jumping on board and asking for change or creating the change themselves. This is wonderful.

If we want edible towns and cities to become a reality, we must take action and help it to drive the idea forward!

Magnolia: Edible flowers and medicinal leaves, in the middle of the city.

Urban Foraging Today
How much free food grows in your town? There are hundreds of edible species growing in Amsterdam and most other cities.

Some of my favorites are: Nettles, Elderberries, Apples, Lime leaves, Hazelnuts, Ginkgo nuts, Blackberry shoots, Ground Elder leaves, Rosehips and Cleavers.

I forage a little something from the city almost every day of the year. It connects me to the seasons, the local landscape, enriches my diet and it's a great way to meet interesting people!

Photo credit: NinasNature.com A foraging walk in Amsterdam with Lynn.

Just a pinch of herbs
Herbs are generally defined as plants, or parts of a plant, which are used for medicine or for cooking. They may be strongly flavoured or scented plants which help the digestion or they may improve the flavour of meals. They may be medicinal and very helpful for making simple home remedies.

Generally, when we think of a herb, we think of a plant that we only need to harvest a small amount of. Perhaps just a few leaves of Sage to add to a meal or brew up a cup of tea.

This light harvesting reduces environmental impact and reduces the risk of poisoning and eating polluted plants.

Urban foragers should focus on finding "herbs" rather than "vegetables".
Focusing on local herbs increases our creativity, it reduces negative environmental impact and it promotes understanding of the plants which grow in urban areas.

Chickweed (Stellaria media): Source of year-round vitamins and minerals.

How clean is our food?
Where does our food really come from? How clean is it? Who has handled it? How processed is it? I wonder how many of these questions we can answer with certainty?

City foraging does have risks. We need to consider urban pollution, local laws, poisonous plants and other factors. I like to take responsibility for at least a small proportion of my family’s diet and I look after the land where some of my foraged herbs grow.

Urban Foraging is increasingly popular so it is important that we understand how to do it safely and ethically.

Please add any notes which you find useful, to your personal Foraging notes. There are no Assessed Tasks for this Welcome Unit.

Move onto Foraging 1 - Ethical Foraging Rules

7 Replies to “Foraging Course – Welcome!”

  1. Hi Lynn,
    Thank you, I really enjoyed the introduction pod cast. It’s interesting that you focus in on herbs rather than the general vegetable group of plants. I agree that taking small amounts is the best way to avoid eating something that could potentially be poisonous. It’s also refreshing to hear that rather than try to learn the names of all plants and cultivars students can focus on some herbs and plants and know them really well. A very different approach to the RHS course I took a few years ago where there was pressure to learn so many each week. I’m really looking forward to learning more.

    1. Hi Livvy, Thanks for your comment! I’m not sure the Dutch audience would appreciate my accent but perhaps I could record someone Dutch reading through. Any offers?!

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