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Suburban foraging to wake the burbs

 
pollinator
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Location: East tn
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I often wonder how we as humans have drifted so far from the natural world around us.

The drift is evident when foraging in view of the masses. From bewildered stares to bewildering questions like

What are you doing? Dont eat that! Are you sure thats edible? How do you know for sure?

Eventually, usually, someone asks for a nibble. Maybe that person will rediscover the natural human interest in the plants that surround them and how those plants can serve as food, medicine, fiber, fuel, etc

Today, my and 3 of my kids gathered a few pounds of persimmons from a grassy lot adjacent to shoney's.  The highway was in full view, but the way the runoff would flow was not problematic.
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master gardener
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Location: Lasqueti Island, British Columbia - USDA zone 8-9
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Great to see you harvesting food which would otherwise go unnoticed. and with your kids!
 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Germany
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Wow, foraging persimmons is really cool!

I agree with you, it's sad that so many people don't even see edibles around them.
Where I live in Germany there is a long tradition of searching for mushrooms, and last week I went on an excursion with a senior mushroom collector from my village. But it is not really something that younger people would do.

When I take a walk with my kids, I do pick up hazelnuts or walnuts when they are on public ground (they usually grow in gardens and part of the nuts falls on sidewalks etc.). Sometimes they are a bit self-conscious about this but I just kept doing it so they now mostly join in (a different story when I collect horse poop!).

The other day I passed a small group of workmen from Lithuania who are currently digging up the streets for the new internet lines. They were crawling on the ground to pick up hazelnuts from the side of the trainstation. I was really happy to see that - most Germans would be too embarrassed to do such a thing in public.

Thankfully I know a bunch of people who also like foraging, and the environmental group I am in takes care of several orchards. For most of the time we are happy when someone helps herself to the fruit. Although we do not explicitly plant for the public (we take the apples to a juice press or cook applesauce to sell at the Christmas bazaar), but I really appreciate anyone cooking from scratch, baking a cake or just snacking on an apple opposed to those people who only ever eat what comes wrapped from a store.

 
Posts: 143
Location: Southern New Hampshire (Zone 5)
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wow I haven't thought about Shoney's since I lived in Tennessee over 20 years ago!  

good find on the persimmons

I've had a lot of similar experiences recently

there were a couple kids picking up walnuts under a tree when I walked by.  Their mom asked me if I knew what they were so I told her.  She seemed amazed and baffled that this is where the walnuts in bag at the store come from.  I showed the kids how to bust them open with a rock and they happily spent the next half hour making a mess on the sidewalk and staining their hands - good fun!

Then last weekend after a youth soccer game, we were chatting with another couple parents and my son walked up with an autumn olive branch and was eating the berries.  The mom's eyes grew wide and she asked me "do you know he's eating those berries?!"  I said yeah, I showed him where they grew last week.  He got her to try one and she was impressed.

I've also seen a lot of mycophobia around mushrooms.  Someone will post a picture of an interesting mushroom they found in their yard and innocently inquire to learn more about it.  The first several replies are "OMG, don't eat it you'll DIE!" when the person was just curious to learn more about their environment.
 
Posts: 170
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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Meh, those fruit trees just make a mess of the lawn and draw yellow jackets.  Best to cut them down and send them to the landfill....

I've actually heard this.  Nice haul!  We have a public fig bush we keep an eye on.  It was spectacular several years back, then we had an unusually cold winter that killed it way back.  Thankfully, they didn't remove it, but it has been slow coming back.
 
J Davis
pollinator
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Love the other anecdotes. Thanks for the smiles.

So I came across a comment about native Americans using a bark less log for spreading persimmon paste on to dehydrate it. The resulting fruit leather supposedly had a really long shelf life.

So my son (pictured) and I made an attempt using a dehydrator. Nothing but persimmons plus the effort to remove seeds and spread the mushed (not blended) pulp around on a tray.

Turned out fabulous.
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Anita Martin
pollinator
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This morning I went for my weekly walk through the neighbourhood with two other women. I spotted several walnut trees that had ripe walnuts and stuffed as much as I could into my pockets.
In the afternoon I came back with my youngest son (who is the most patient of my children) and we collected walnuts and hazelnuts.
The picture shows only part of our haul. Even if not all of those are good for eating, we will have enough for the next weeks to come!

Organic nuts are quite expensive so I am glad we made this nice walk today.
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Posts: 315
Location: North Coast Dominican Republic
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J Davis wrote:Are you sure thats edible? How do you know for sure?



In that conversation, here is what I would do: Ask them in turn, if you went to a supermarket, and none of the produce had any labels, how much of it could you identify? When they think about it that way, probably the light bulb in their head would turn on as they realize, yes, they actually could identify a lot of it. Then you can turn the conversation toward showing them how each wild edible has as distinct an appearance as each kind of produce.
 
pollinator
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Location: the mountains of western nc
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J Davis wrote:Are you sure thats edible? How do you know for sure?



sadly, i've gotten 'you know that's poisonous, right?' much more often.
 
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