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Where to forage? Where can I go hunting for wild edibles?

 
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One of my goals for my family and I is to learn how to forage. But my first hurdle is figuring out where to forage. We live in a city and our property is a postage stamp. What do you think? How can we find places to forage? I have a couple ideas but I wonder if the veteran foragers on permies could help me figure this one out.

Bonus question: what are your favorite foraging resources?
 
pollinator
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Nate Hornbrook wrote:One of my goals for my family and I is to learn how to forage. But my first hurdle is figuring out where to forage. We live in a city and our property is a postage stamp. What do you think? How can we find places to forage? I have a couple ideas but I wonder if the veteran foragers on permies could help me figure this one out.

Bonus question: what are your favorite foraging resources?



Nate,

You can start anywhere as long as you dont want To eat What you find!

If your goal is To learn To identify and To gather seeds, the world is your oyster (mushroom)

As for resources, if you havé smart phone, use the camera and a plant id app To learn the names of plants. Then search for the name of the plant plus useful or édible. Eatheweeds is a personal favorite website w loads of vidéo.

As for specific places , Parks, empty lots, university campuses, community gardens (the weeds and trees)

 
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My favourite resource for foraging has been Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel. There I learnt the valuable lesson that the best way to begin learning plant ID is through families, not species. For example, the mustard family (Brassicaceae) has over 3500 species that are all edible. So, you don't necessarily need to ID right down to the family to know that it's edible. (Obviously the next step is get more specific!)

In terms of location, it's worth thinking about the edge effect. I live in an urban area but we have a decent(ish) amount of woodland, and it's usually the edges of parks, woodlands and small wild areas that have the most diversity in terms of herbs.
 
pollinator
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Resources? Anything by Samuel Thayer. Nature's Garden. The Forager's Harvest. Thayer only writes about plants that he personally has found, and prepared for eating.

And then there is Green Deane. He has a free forum to post pictures of your finds, to get confirmation on your plant identification. He also has a multitude of articles here. Then there is his Youtube Channel. If you live in the Florida area, you can attend one of his walks, for a fee.

As for where to forage... for practicing identification, try a state park. There are rules about what you can harvest, maybe even an outright ban. Maybe go for a drive in the country, again for identification purposes, walk along a quiet road, see what's in the ditch.

There is nothing quite so satisfying, as when you can identify a plant at 45 miles an hour by its winter skeleton!
 
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Great site for finding wild useful plants:
https://fallingfruit.org/
If there isn't anything marked in your area, use it to mark stuff for future foragers.  
The site uses google maps and has lots of plants marked.
 
master steward
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I'd second the books by Thayer.  I'd pick up a couple foraging books that are suited to your area.  Proper identification is the first step.

Locations in a city are numerous, especially in the suburbs and open commercial areas.  It only takes one person with a standard sized pear tree to set you up with bushels of pears.  Same for apples or plums.  Many businesses install landscaping that is edible (not that they intended it, it just happened).  Consider that nearly every flowering bush in your city will make a berry.  The only question then is if you can eat it.  So watch for flowering shrubs in the spring, if you can identify some by their flower, it makes finding them easier as you drive around.  Note their locations and come back during berry season to load up.
 
Nate Hornbrook
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This is great! Thank you so much!

How does one figure out what books speak to his/her area?

(I live in Central Virginia, by the way)
 
Mike Haasl
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I found a berry identification book for WI and MN.  I'm guessing if you search Amazon for "forgaging" and "berry picking" and some terms for your part of the world "Virginia", "Appalachia", etc hopefully something will pop up.
 
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Hi Nate. I live in a town (not a big city) and I love foraging. I don't know if you count picking wild edibles ('weeds') in your own yard as foraging. I do. My foraging starts right out of my door, where I find bittercress (cardamine, of the brassica family) growing along the paths. And then when I am out of my garden, the communal green starts with ground elder (aegopodium, also known by many other names), the best wild edible I know.
In every town, village or city I know it's like here: edible weeds growing in every hidden corner, alongside walking paths, in parks, etc. So my answer to your question 'where to forage?' is 'everywhere!'  
 
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I would suggest day trips to a national forest.  Be sure to check out regulations first.  I have found that as long as I ask first with a local official (ranger, etc) there is no problem.
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