Text for Foraging Welcome

  • Foraging safely and ethically
  • Using foraged herbs
  • Identifying plant families
  • Botany basics
  • 26+ units
  • The podcast below talks through the notes on this page

The units in the foraging course should be followed one by one. Work through all of the suggested activities, to gain the most from the units. Use the Foraging Forum to post questions about these units and to share your foraging experiences.

Each of the foraging units will help to build your confidence in picking wild food, both in the countryside and city. The skills needed will build gradually as your knowledge of botany, plant families and your local foraging grounds increase. It takes years of regular practice and study to learn about all of the edibles in one area. However, don't think that years of practice are needed to forage at all! 

Lynn foraging in Amsterdam. Photo credit: The Kitchn

Even if you are new to foraging, with a little effort you will soon be noticing edible plants growing close to your home. Take a step-by-step approach to your practice and study and enjoy each new discovery which arises. It is far better to know one useful plant really well than to know almost nothing about many!

Below are some of my thoughts about foraging and why I focus particularly on herbs. Read through before working through Foraging 1 - Ethical Foraging Rules

A Forager's Dream
I believe that cities should be edible environments with residents who know how to care for and use the plants. My dream is for streets to be planted with edible fruit, nut and leaf trees. Buildings such as schools, care homes, apartment complexes and hospitals would be obliged to incorporate fruit bushes, nut trees and herbs into their terrain. Playgrounds would be edged with edibles and city people would commonly forage in their local environment, to enhance their diet and improve community cohesion. Urbanites would know how to forage safely and sustainably, helping them to nurture the whole ecosystem. In time, I hope that edible plants will come to replace toxic ones as landscaping favourites and that increased urban foraging will act as a driver to further clean and improve towns and cities.

20th April 2015 Magnolia
Magnolia: Edible flowers and medicinal leaves.

Urban Foraging Today
There is far more free-food available in public spaces than most people realise. Nettles, Elderberries, Apples, Lime leaves, Hazelnuts, Ginkgo nuts, Blackberry shoots, Ground Elder leaves, Rosehips and Cleavers are just some of my Amsterdam favourites.  These and hundreds more edibles can be found in similar towns and cities around the world. I manage to forage a little something from city spaces all year round. An increasing number of people are interested in foraging from city spaces for reasons ranging from novelty to necessity. I find it a great way to connect with the land around me, to meet interesting people and to enrich my diet with varied tastes and nutrients.

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

Why Forage Herbs?
Foragers must always be sensitive to their internal and external environment. One way to do this is to harvest only small amounts from diverse locations. I consciously choose to forage herbs rather than the more vegetable type plants. Herbs are strongly flavoured or scented plants. As you will know from kitchen herbs, we only need a pinch of a herb to season a whole meal.  With all the pressures on urban environments, it makes sense to me that I should harvest mainly herbs. When I forage herbs, I need only a few leaves. This reduces my impact on the environment and reduces my risk of eating poisonous or polluted plants. I encourage all urban foragers to focus on herbs rather than the vegetable type wild plants. There are simply not enough wild edibles in cites, for us all to forage platefuls each day. Focusing on urban herbs can make you more creative in the kitchen and can help to increase your understanding of the plants which grow throughout towns and cities.

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

Safe Urban Foraging
City foraging may sound unclean, unsafe and unappetising. I don't insist that everyone tries it but I do urge you to consider how little we really know about the food that we usually eat. I am sure that I know more about the plants in my favourite foraging spots than I do about the herbs and vegetables on sale in the shops.  Of course, there are risks with foraging and they must be taken seriously. There is urban pollution, local law, risk of poisonous plants and more. Even so, I like to take responsibility for at least a small proportion of my family’s diet. Consequently, I eat local herbs all year round, I learn how to harvest them correctly and I look after the land where they grow.

Let's get started with Foraging 1 - Ethical Foraging Rules.

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