Forget Farm To Fork – Urban Foraging: The Ultimate in Local Eating

Many of us have grown accustomed to making a list of foods we want, then heading to the grocery store to buy them. Others have embraced the trend of community-supported agriculture by signing up for shares or participating in community gardens. And then there are the daring folks who march out into urban environments to scope out their next meal.

People who are unfamiliar with the practice of urban foraging may view it as the work of a few unconventional individuals, but in reality, people have been foraging since the beginning of civilization. Today, the practice is enjoying a worldwide resurgence. Even the restaurant scene has gotten in on the action, as more and more chefs incorporate foraged foods into their menus to produce unique and sustainable fare.1

Foraging may also aid national efforts to reduce hunger. University of California, Berkeley, researchers are experimenting with a program that maps edible plants in low-income neighborhoods to empower local residents to find food near their homes.2 Many foragers also donate some or all of their finds to local food pantries.

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The basic concept behind urban foraging is simple: search for and gather fresh food in urban spaces.3 Practitioners embrace foraging as a way to reconnect with the natural world, obtain free food, reduce their eco-footprint, diversify their diets, and learn to look at urban spaces in new ways. Not to be confused with dumpster diving, foraging focuses on obtaining fresh food straight from the source – whether from trees, bushes, edible weeds, or other plants found in parks, abandoned lots, and local neighborhoods.4

Ever felt curious about seeking out your own food in your local environment but held back because you didn’t know where to start? Consider this your cheat sheet for entering the wild world of urban foraging.

Know What’s Safe to Eat

This point really can’t be stressed enough. Not all plants are safe for human consumption, and eating the wrong plant (or the wrong part of an otherwise-safe plant) can result in illness or even death.5That’s why it’s critical to research safe plants in your area and learn how to effectively identify them and their parts. It’s particularly helpful to shadow an experienced forager the first several times you head out so you can learn from their know-how. Regardless of whether you forage solo or with a friend, never eat a plant unless you can identify it with absolute certainty.

A Guide to Urban Foraging: Plants to Look For

While you research the plants native to your area, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with their Latin names. Common names aren’t consistent across the board, and there are even instances where a plant shares a common name with a poisonous plant. Write down the Latin names of the plants you’re searching for on a particular day, and then bring along a field guide for proper identification.6

Scout Different Locations

A Guide to Urban Foraging: Where to Look

Before picking anything, do some research to figure out where foraging is and is not allowed in your area. In particular, check with local government for any rules regarding foraging on public land.7 If you have your eye on plants that reside on private property, always ask permission before foraging. (If nobody’s home, consider leaving a note with your contact information.8 ) Take note of what grows where and when; foraging is a seasonal enterprise.9 If you encounter a plant that’s past its prime, make a note to return to that same spot earlier next year.

Modern foragers can also use the Internet to identify prime foraging spots. Head to fallingfruit.org, which allows foragers from across the globe to share the locations of found fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts, to the tune of more than 800,000 entries from 50 countries.10 The searchable map is free to use online and the founders have also created an app for both Android and Apple.

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No matter how you identify possible foraging locations, it’s important to investigate whether the area has been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides, or is located near an industrial area. Avoid plants from these areas, because they’re likely to be contaminated with chemicals that aren’t good for you. In general, try to avoid plants growing near busy roads or train tracks, or in soil that is contaminated with lead (such as at the site of a demolished house). It’s also best to steer clear of auto shops, gas stations, and factories.11 In contrast, empty lots or wooded areas can often be great sources for forage-friendly foods.12

Be Prepared

If you’re setting out to forage, it’s helpful to wear sturdy shoes and bring along some gardening gloves, a spade, a field guide to local plants, and a couple of reusable bags to transport your loot.13 Come prepared with knowledge about the best way to harvest plants so they’ll stay fresh until you get home.14

Respect Some Basic Rules

Part of reconnecting with the land includes developing an appreciation for all the ways nature sustains us – and it’s important to demonstrate that appreciation by treating the earth with respect. Keep the following rules in mind wherever and whenever you forage.

  • If you come across a small patch of a plant species, don’t pick all of the plants. Instead, leave several behind so the species can continue to grow in that location.15
  • Do not to take more than you can use: One of the goals of foraging is to eliminate, not contribute to, food waste.16 On a similar note, don’t harvest the whole plant if you’re only going to use a specific part, such as the leaves.
  • No matter what, don’t harvest or dig up the roots of a threatened species.17 Feel free to remove invasive species from an area, as they’re not doing the local ecosystem any good.

Use Common Sense When it Comes to Food Safety

A Guide to Urban Foraging: How to Forage for Food

If you’re wondering about the safety of foraged foods from urban areas, take solace in this: One study conducted in Boston found that foraged foods were no more dangerous to eat than conventional produce. And in some cases, they actually contained more micronutrients.18

Of course, this is just one study from one city. But common sense can help protect you from major food safety hazards. Know how to identify safe plants, scout locations according to the guidelines above, avoid plants that appear to be unhealthy, and thoroughly rinse your harvest before consuming. By practicing these basic tenets and trusting your gut, you’ll maximize your chances of foraging in a healthy way.19

Even as you digest all the serious pointers outlined above, keep in mind that foraging is ultimately meant to be exciting and fun. (Consider it the adult version of a scavenger hunt.) So get out there with your field guide and marvel at all the food nature provides – even in the concrete jungle.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Sources:

  1. http://experience.usatoday.com/food-and-wine/story/news-festivals-events/food/2014/01/27/foraging-chefs-dishes-trend/4817825/
  2. http://grist.org/food/can-urban-foraging-actually-feed-poor-people/
  3. https://canberraurbanforaging.wordpress.com/about/
  4. http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/eat-local/5-rules-for-urban-food-foraging.aspx
  5. http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/eat-local/5-rules-for-urban-food-foraging.aspx
  6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/foraging-tips-dos-and-donts_n_3367633.html
  7. http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/eat-local/foraging-tips.aspx
  8. http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/eat-local/5-rules-for-urban-food-foraging.aspx
  9. http://kwgn.com/2015/09/17/foraging-app-created-by-boulder-men-helps-you-find-all-the-free-food-around-you-2/
  10. http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-to-be-an-urban-fruit-forager
  11. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/August-2011/Urban-Foraging-Tips-How-to-Find-Your-Dinner-in-Chicagos-Wild/
  12. http://www.npr.org/2011/04/18/135412640/foraging-the-weeds-for-wild-healthy-greens
  13. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/August-2011/Urban-Foraging-Tips-How-to-Find-Your-Dinner-in-Chicagos-Wild/
  14. http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/eat-local/foraging-tips.aspx
  15. http://netnebraska.org/article/news/nettles-milkweed-and-dandelion-its-whats-dinner-some-urban-nebraskans
  16. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/foraging-tips-dos-and-donts_n_3367633.html
  17. http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/sustainable-living/eat-local/5-rules-for-urban-food-foraging.aspx
  18. http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/urban-foraged-food-found-safe-eat-boston
  19. http://www.npr.org/2011/04/18/135412640/foraging-the-weeds-for-wild-healthy-greens


How to Get the Most Calories per Foot Out of Your Homestead Garden

In order to provide high-quality food for your entire family throughout the year using your garden, you have to plan well. If you grow the majority of your food at your homestead garden, this guide will help you in achieving a successful and plentiful produce. With the correct planning and use of the garden; you may yield a big amount of calories per foot to ensure food sufficiency at your home.

How to Have a Successful Yield

You need to take the following activities into consideration if you want to get enough supply from your garden.

  • Establish your goals and work towards them.

You may start by making a list of the foods which you and your family prefer while also noting the quantities. You may use a chart to make your plan better. It will guide you on how much of each of the food crops you need to grow. This also helps you to organize the garden.

  • Choose an appropriate gardening method.

It is advisable to choose an appropriate method for your gardening. The following is a list of gardening methods which will help you in yielding a great amount of calories. You may choose any that suits the nature of your garden.

  • Deep soil preparation
  • Intensive planting
  • Composting
  • Companion planting
  • Growing crops which offer sufficient calories from a small area
  • Use open-pollinated seeds
  • Growing crops for grains and carbon
  • Choosing the right food crops to grow

The following are examples of great food crops that will do well in your homestead garden with brief explanations about their benefits.

  1. Potatoes

Potatoes are a good source of both proteins and carbohydrates. They provide more carbohydrates per square foot than any other common vegetables. Potatoes also yield more protein per square foot than all other vegetables, except for beans. They can be stored for many months without any need for electricity or processing which adds to their benefits.

  1. Beans

Legumes such as beans, peas, cow-peas and lentils are nutritious, rich in protein and easy to grow. They can be stored for long periods during winter without need for electricity or processing. Different legume species do well in different conditions. It is recommended to grow many different species for a better calorie per foot yield.

  1. Corn

Corn is the most perfect grain for growing and processing on a small scale garden. The harvesting process is easy and they do not require threshing. Fresh corn is rich in vitamins C, B1 and B5. It also contains plenty of dietary fiber, manganese and phosphorous.

Sweet corn provides delicious and fresh cobs during summer and a crop of dent corn provides you corn flour.

  1. Squash

Squash are another great source of carbohydrates, vitamins C and A as well as antioxidants (carotenoids). They thrive well in most gardens.

Final Words

Staple crops are very ideal if you rely on your homestead garden to feed your family. The best staple food crops for ensuring food self-sufficiency are easy to harvest and store. They return great yields and are calorie-dense to offer your entire family the food energy they need each day.

About the Author

Jack Neely is a fitness expert, survivalist, and world traveler. He’s been in several life or death situations, and he’s making an effort to spread his knowledge around the web to help others survive these situations as well. He’s also on the content team at The Tactical Guru.

Build The Benefits of Raised Beds

Raised beds are the perfect way to start your own garden. Fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs can all thrive in the raised bed environment. The popularity of raised beds is on the rise because of their many benefits – reduce soil erosion, the ease of access to control weeds and pick vegetables, creation of a warmer soil temperature in the spring, plus many more

Follow this guide to learn how to create your own raised bed garden. From the building materials to the vegetables – We dive into everything you will need to create a flourishing raised bed.

Click to Enlarge Image Build The Benefits of Raised Beds Build The Benefits of Raised Beds Infographic by CustomMade

Gardening Top Tip From YZS

Gardening Top Tip: Tomatoes need calcium to achieve their full flavor potential, and calcium is often greatly lacking in our soils. 95% of a dry eggshell is calcium carbonate.

When planting your tomato plants crush up (to powder) about 4 or 5 egg shells and put them in the bottom of the hole. Then plant your tomato on top. They’ll provide calcium and prevent blossom end rot.

egg shells for your garden

See Which Vegetables to Grow During Summer : Click Here

If you are looking for vegetables to grow during summer, these should be the ones you must consider. Plant Heirloom Seeds : Survival Seeds

How To Make Your Own Vertical PVC Planter

Short on space for your garden? Go vertical. Upright planters let those short on space still experience the joys of gardening. I’m so glad that there are options out there! The Owner Builder Network has put together a fantastic tutorial on how to make one of your own from PVC pipe.

Do It Yourself, How to make your own vertical garden in a small space.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to make your own vertical planter.

DIY Vertical Planter

Materials:

– Any length 100mm-150mm (4″ – 6″) diameter PVC or any other kind of pipe
– Potting mix and compost
– Plants (not large plants or bushes)
– Large pebbles of about the same size for added support/stability
– A drip irrigation pipeline (or you can simply water from the top and it will trickle down) *

Tools:
– A drill and circular drill bit OR
– A jigsaw if you don’t own the above
– A hacksaw (if pipe needs to be cut down)
– Marker pen

Materials and Tools

Important:

A minimum of 25% of your above ground height needs to be below ground, to ensure stability. e.g. if you want your planter to be a metre high then the overall length of your pipe must be 125cm (or more).

How to:

If you are using an off cut or leftover material from a previous job, then the size and height of your project have already been determined for you.

If you are buying the materials you need to decide on the height and width of the pipe. For a 100mm pipe it is recommended to have only one hole in a horizontal row so the plants have enough room for their roots to grow. For 150mm pipes you can have up to 3 holes in each horizontal row depending on which plants you choose (three holes for flowers only, the rest either one hole or two).

Using a marker pen, mark out the holes you want to cut for your plants using the guidelines above. The size of the hole directly depends on the plants type and size.

Using the markings, cut the planting holes using either a hand drill with circular drill bit or a jigsaw.

Cutting the holes...

Set up the pipe in a large pot or directly into the soil, using the pebbles for additional stability.

Set up the pipe in a large pot or directly into the soil.

Finally, put the compost and soil into your pipe and start planting.

Keep the water up to your plants and sit back and reap the rewards.

* Because the planters hold only a limited amount of soil, it is essential you keep the water up to your plants. If you are relying in watering only at the top of the pipe, you’ll find that the plants at the top will get plenty of water but those at the bottom will get a lot less dry. That’s fine if you plant accordingly, but the best solution is to insert a weeper hose into the main pipe. This can be purchased or simply made by using 1″ conduit drilled with weep holes down it’s length. Wrap this inner conduit in geo-fabric or weed-cloth to prevent it getting blocked over time.

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