Do you love the idea of being able to harvest fresh, nutritious, local food . . . for free? Yeah, me, too! Foraging is also a way to get outside to enjoy nature and get some exercise. But there are a few simple tips to keep in mind before you head out on your adventure.
Be courteous. Ask the landowner for permission to forage, and offer her some of your bounty.
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Be respectful. Don’t leave trash behind or damage nearby plants.
Do take a guide book like this one. Be sure you have positively identified a plant before eating. Better yet, go with an experienced forager.
Do look in your own backyard. Foraging doesn’t have to mean a trip to the country if you are a city dweller. Dandelion, purslane, plantain, day lily and more abound in the city.
Check state and local laws. Some areas forbid foraging in parks and state forests.
Be sure the tools you use are clean and disease-free. You don’t want to spread disease.
Do try re-planting some of what you brought home into your own garden, assuming it is not invasive.
Don’t take it all. Be sure to leave plenty so that the wild edible can reproduce. If you’re harvesting a patch of ramps, for example, don’t harvest from the edges where the ramps can spread, but rather from the middle. This will give areas where the ramps are already crowded room to grow.
Don’t harvest a plant if there are just a few. Allow that patch to grow and expand for future years. The only exception would be invasive species. Take all you want.
Don’t harvest rare plants.
Don’t harvest close to roads with heavy traffic – the plants may be contaminated from exhaust. And don’t harvest in or near polluted waters.
Don’t waste. Be sure to use what you harvest.
Now that you have some foraging tips, here are some posts to get you started on your foraging adventure:
Pine and Spruce
What dos and don’t would you add to my list of foraging tips?