Urban foraging, particularly fruit foraging, has become quite popular in some towns and cities in Britain. Foraging can be quite a good way to supplement your diet with high quality fruits and nuts. It's also an enjoyable pastime. Children can discover a world of outdoor fun and challenges under the supervision of older family members.
There are green living benefits to food foraging, too. You may be able to cut your food miles and your carbon use because you reduce trips to the shops. You'll certainly increase your knowledge and appreciation of the natural world.
This article on family-friendly urban foraging was kindly donated by the Urbane Forager.
The Urbane Forager
For most people in the UK early forays into foraging begin with blackberries, those ubiquitous black beauties that spring up all over the place in late August. Sadly for most people, this is where it stops too and my mission is to change that fact.
I work in an office, hunched over a computer most days and consequently I insist on getting out of the office for a healthy walk in my lunch hour. Of course my range is limited by time, so I can only go a couple of miles in various directions.
After a fairly short period of time of this kind of behaviour you run out of roads to go down and begin to explore footpaths, fields and other nooks and crannies. If you keep your eyes open, you also become very familiar with the local flora and as a result you begin to become more aware of changes according to the season.
During my lunchtime constitutionals I began to notice fruit trees, cherries were the first right outside the door of the building, which is on boring industrial estate. I picked and ate some, much to the consternation of other staff, and found them to be delicious, so I came back at the weekend with my kids and we gathered a whole heap. This was fun outdoor activity for all the family; we got pounds of free fruit, which we took home to eat, cook and freeze. I thought, what’s not to like? It also made me more aware of the how many of these trees there were all over the city where we live and as a result of this, we picked many more.
Next, I noticed some apple trees during a stroll. We waited for them to ripen and came back with a fruit picking tool. We had another fun day out and harvested a huge amount of lovely free apples, which will of course keep for months if stored correctly.
That year I later found hazelnuts, walnuts (something that always surprises people) and finally chestnuts all of which were brought home to be consumed in various ways.
The following year we decided to make more of a go of the foraging as a family and started by observing the various blossoms to help us identify the trees. I put them on a map so that we would not forget the individual locations. Plum trees were everywhere, then the cherry, apple and pear blossom revealed the vast amounts of potential for future picking.
I decided to blog our activities to document our progress; this further engaged the children and made it simpler to pass on the information to other like-minded families. It wasn’t long before I realised that I was going to need help anyway – there’s actually far too much fruit out there for just one family.
It’s autumn at the here now, the nights are drawing in and it’s getting cooler at night. More importantly, there is a harvest out in my city waiting to be pulled in and processed, so I am currently very busy during my free time (I probably watch significantly less TV than most people). Apples need to be picked (fortunately my son can now climb like a monkey) and stored or turned into cider. Nuts need to be collected (my daughter loves doing this) and squirreled away for the winter months, chutney needs to be cooked (my wife is Head Chef) and put into jars and wine needs to be bottled (no prizes for guessing who this duty falls to).
When I started my burgeoning blog I needed a suitable moniker, there were lots of urban foragers out there already but they were all interested in herbs and plants that most people consider weeds; this didn’t seem very much fun or even accessible to people like me with work and young families to consider. We mainly pick: plums, cherries, blackberries, pears, apples, hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts, there is more than enough of them, they are easy to recognise and process. I chose to call myself the Urbane Forager - as soon as I thought of it - I knew it was right - the extra e really did it for me and it distinguished me from the people living in the woods and the isolationists. It changed the meaning and created an immediate fun brand.
Urban Foraging - A Family-Friendly Experience Copyright the Urbane Forager 2011
Please do not copy without permission.
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