The Lock down Forager

Recently, I was contacted by a fellow forager about doing an interview for a podcast. We covered topics such as landscape ecology, how we are all hunter gatherers at heart, our foraging experiences, plant identification etc. There were a few gags too.  About this time the news was running images of empty supermarket shelves, panic buying, and lengthy queues. This led me to think about the need for fresh food, and how foraging for wild food meets this need. You can do this near your home (if we are still allowed out that is) or indeed your garden (if we are not) which is an under used resource anyway. But what do you need to be a forager? Not much really…

Recently, I was contacted by a fellow forager about doing an interview for a podcast. We covered topics such as landscape ecology, how we are all hunter gatherers at heart, our foraging experiences, plant identification etc. There were a few gags too.  About this time the news was running images of empty supermarket shelves, panic buying, and lengthy queues. This led me to think about the need for fresh food, and how foraging for wild food meets this need. You can do this near your home (if we are still allowed out that is) or indeed your garden (if we are not) which is an under used resource anyway. But what do you need to be a forager? Not much really. If you are new to foraging for wild food I would always recommend going on a course but that doesn’t seem like an option at the moment. So what to do? Welcome to my guide to being a lockdown forager!

  1. You don’t really need any special tools or clothing to be a forager*
  2. You will need some knowledge about plant identification
  3. Take an identification book with you, either a specific wild food book or a plant ID book to make sure you have collected the correct things
  4. Only select common, easy to identify plats such as stinging nettle, wild garlic, dandelion leaves
  5. It is illegal to uproot or destroy any wild plant, but you can pick leaves, flowers and fruit
  6. You will need a container of some description to put your finds in. This could be a plastic container or a woven basket if you want to go for the full country living look. Or just a bag
  7. Gloves and scissors are really useful as you will soon tire of picking stinging nettles without them
  8. Ideally select an area to pick your wild food that isn’t heavily used by dogs or other animals
  9. If foraging along a lane, track or roadside be aware of traffic (such as it is at the moment)
  10. Please do not trespass on someone else’s land, you wouldn’t like it if they came to your garden and took all your veggies
  11. Wear suitable clothing for the time of year and current weather conditions – no point in catching a cold just so you can triumphantly brandish a few dandelion leaves

*I always wear a hat because: a) I don’t have a lot of hair, b) I hate cold ears, and c) it is a useful item to have if you have forgotten number 6!

So why not contemplate some wild food foraging for your allotted once a day form of exercise? You will be doing your body and mind some good by exercising, discovering plants and putting fresh food on the table. I will leave you with my recommended wild super food for this month which is stinging nettle. It is the easiest wild food plant to identify, you can’t get it wrong unless you try really, really hard and it’s full of protein, vitamins and minerals and makes the tastiest soup!

If you are interested to hear my foraging podcast with Miles Irving, then please feel free to go to this website:  https://forager.org.uk/podcast its number 39 – be warned though it does go on quite a bit. Enjoy!

Adrian April 2020