One of my favourite parts of workshops I run is walking around the garden foraging for food. We smell, taste and collect things that usually get overlooked - I talk about how to grow, harvest and cook the unusual foods. I've also organised workshops too where we go on a wild forage for weeds and feast on our findings for lunch.
Since my garden is such a source of foraging abundance, I haven't been wild foraging for a while but I am re-inspired to head out to the wilder parts after coming across a great book yesterday about foraging for wild food in the city. The Thrifty Forager: Living off your local landscape by Alys Fowler 2011, and a new edition in 2015.
|Alys Fowler (image source: litfest.ie) is author of several books (Slow Gardening, Abundance, The Edible Garden, The Thrifty Gardener, Garden Everywhere and The Thrifty Forager). She also writes a weekly column on gardening for Guardian Weekend magazine.|
In the introduction to The Thrifty Forager, Alys addresses straight up the fear that people have of foraging for food - "Is it clean?" She answers this by questioning whether supermarket food is any cleaner, suggesting that it is possibly more polluted. She encourages people to become "competent foragers - knowing the land management practices of where the food is being picked - knowing what and when to pick, observing the landscape and watching for changes". She believes that what she picks from around her is far more beneficial to her and her surroundings that anything she buys about of a package.
When I lived in Brisbane, we were always foraging. We harvested Macadamias from our street trees, tamarinds from another road lined with them, fallen mangoes, lilly pillies from parks everywhere, and lots of other bush foods.
Another really useful book I have for finding out what to look for is the Weed Forager's Handbook: A guide to edible and medicinal weeds in Australia by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland.
There's also Food for Free by Richard Mabey. Collins 2012, which lists over 100 common foods you can find out and about.
|excerpt from Food For Free|
At the same time that I found The Thrifty Forager, I saw The Rurbanite: living in the country without leaving the city (2013) by Alex Mitchell (also author of The Edible Balcony, and a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph). I related to being a 'rurbanite'. This is how I felt as a city farmer - getting Northey Street City Farm set up 20 years ago. I remember actually being referred to as an 'Urban Peasant' in a newspaper article with a picture of me in my overalls with a garden fork over my shoulder.
The Rurbanite is a good read for people who want to live grow food, keep chickens and bees, live simply, but stay in the city. There's a growing band of urbanites - the urban homesteaders, the city farmers, container growers, curbside gardeners, urban food foragers and guerrilla gardeners. With 75% of the global population expected to live in cities by 2050, growing food in the city, and connecting with and nurturing the natural and wild spaces in the cities is becoming more and more critical.