I would love nothing more than to live in the country on a small farm where I have the space to grow as much of my own produce as i could. I’d love to have chickens and even share a cow with my neighbours for fresh milk. My dream is to one day be as close to self sustainable as possible. But right now, that dream is still a dream. I live in a small rental in an urban area, close to the wide open space of the country but not in it… not yet. I grow our own herbs and I’m starting to establish vegetables… I have a long way to go and a hell of a lot to learn, but every day I get a little bit closer. I know there are lots of people out there with the same dream. I follow blogs like Whole Larder Love where Rohan and the gorgeous Kate are actually LIVING this dream, living the hard work, living the fruits of their labour and spreading the world about food ethics and teaching their kids about where food comes from. It’s such an important lesson and one that so many of us missed out on in our own childhoods.
Foraging for food is perhaps one of the most primal states that the human being exists in. It’s how we began… As gatherers.
Urban foraging is a term that is used for gathering food in your urban landscape. I’m not talking about dumpster diving. I know some people who practice dumpster diving, but it’s not for me… we don’t eat a lot of processed food anyway, so there isn’t much in a dumpster for us anyhow. i’m talking about sourcing food that GROWS in and around the suburb, city, town that you live in.
Bo and i are getting to know our local area now that we are in our new house. it is a beautiful well established neighbourhood full of beautiful old character cottages and old established gardens. hanging over fences and in old abandoned lots are enormous amounts of edibles. At the moment there is a wealth of oranges hanging from my neighbour beautiful trees, there are cherry trees beginning to blossom, there are big shrubs of lavender and rosemary around the corner and a beautiful big lemon tree in a vacant lot a block away. As we walk around I see gorgeous fig trees that will surely have an abundance of fruit come summer. there is food everywhere, if only you know where to look.
Honestly, i don’t know why people plant anything other than edibles in their gardens. Edible plants are beautiful and functional and have the ability to feed a neighbourhood. Why don’t all councils plant edibles in our public spaces? WHY!?
Like everything we do, urban foraging is done ethically. There are some simple rules that are recommended and that we follow when we are foraging in our local neighbourhood.
- Never take more than you need. We take three or four lemons, a handful of rosemary, a couple of oranges, a small bunch of lavender… there is no use in stockpiling. Waste not want not.
- Always ask permission. If the fruit is not hanging over a fence into public space or in a vacant lot always ask permission and never tresspass. respect. respect. respect.
- Never damage the plant or the surrounding plants. Longevity is key for food security. Pick in a balanced and respectful manner.
- Be very aware of pesticides and contaminants. If the plant is in a vehicle run off or other easily contaminated zone, don’t eat from it. Always wash foraged fruit and vegetables well before consuming (but let’s face it, they are almost always less full of chemicals than what you are likely to buy from the supermarket).
Urban foraging comes from a mindset that encourages communities to come together. to talk to each other. To share and to reestablish communal food sources. Fruit falls from trees and rots on the ground when it is not picked and enjoyed. Urban foraging can supplement low income homes and encourage community empathy and respect.
There are a lot of great resources around now with urban foraging maps, showing you where food is growing in your city and encouraging you to add new information as you find it.
Some great resources are: Urban Tucker (Perth), Urban Gatherer (Perth), Fruit Trees Perth (Perth), Edible Newcastle (Newcastle), Urban Food Maps (Sydney and Melbourne), Falling Fruit Bendigo (Bendigo), Fruit trees for pickin’ (Melbourne), Scrumping in Ballarat (Ballarat), Falling Fruit (International links)
There are also Urban Growers groups (facebook is a great place to start) where a monthly Share, Swap and Shuffle event is held. Growers come together and share what they grow, whether it be eggs, fruit, herbs, veggies, yoghurt cultures, kefir… the list goes on. We’ve just had one start in our local area and I’m so excited to be involved. Even when you don’t have produce to swap or share you can always bring egg cartons, jars or the like… get involved in your communities. Be a part of the food revolution and take your kids with you.
If we don’t change? Who will? Get out and gather!
Do you grow your own produce? Do you forage for food? I’m thinking about starting to do some foraging in the bush/forest but need some more research resources first. Do you know any?
Do your kids know where their food comes from?