Learn About Foraging

Our foraging walks are informal, and we encourage everyone to join in and learn together. If you want to lead or propose a walk but don’t feel confident enough, the rest of us are here to support and help you. We don’t do competitive foraging! If our approach is too informal and you prefer to be guided and looked after by a professional,  then check out the list below.

Foraging is getting a bad name and being banned by some parks who fear they will be pillaged by mushroom hunters supplying fancy restaurants. That’s like banning people from fishing because you’re worried a trawler will come along. We think the best way to respect the environment is to integrate with it and  the best way to control invasive plants is to harvest them. Enjoying nettle soup and bramble tea is a great way to lesson our dependence on a food system built on exploitation of people and planet. 

Who, what, why: Is foraging fruit legal? – a BBC article from 2010

Go out with the pros!

Delightfully, there are people teaching and running courses in London. Let us know of any who’d like to be listed here.

  • hedgeherbs.org.uk
    Rasheeqa Ahmad: Herbalist based in Walthamstow. Medicinal plant ID & informational walks through the seasons, esp spring & summer.
  • foragelondon.co.uk
    John Rensten: Wild food walks in local London parks. “I have set up Forage London to give city dwellers like myself a chance to enjoy and discover some of the amazing wild foods that grow all around us. I hope you enjoy this site and that you come on one of my walks soon.”
  • foragewildfood.com
    Jason Irving: “I set up this website to share my knowledge of plants and encourage people to enjoy foraging. I run walks, talks and workshops to teach people how to identify and use wild plants.”
  • ipsophyto.com
    Foraging walks & more: “Ipso-phyto has been born to provide a range of tools for self reliance based around plants and the foods and medicines they provide.”
  • The PACT project N4
    Wildlife and foraging walks along the New River every second Sunday of the month in 2013/14 except in August, December and February.
  • foodforagingcourses.co.uk
    Online directory of foraging courses all around Britain

A few good books

You don’t need to use Amazon (why not?) Our local independent bookshop will get these for you: Big Green Bookshop N22.  Online, lowimpact.org stocks most of them.

  •  Food for Free by Richard Mabey (lots of editions) The classic introductory foraging handbook
  •  Wild Food by Roger Philips, Another classic – a large book with lovely photos.
  • The Forager Handbook by Miles Irving, with unmatched breadth and depth of information
  • Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey – Great, but not really pocket-sized.
  • The Wildflower Key – a Guide to Plant Identification in the Field by Francis Rose. You’ll need a book like this for plant ID

Websites

Fungi

Teach-Yourself Foraging with YouTube…

Un-official code of conduct, courtesy of Transition Belsize

  • Take flowers and foliage only from large patches of the plant (rule of thumb only take 1/3 of what is available).
  • Always pick in moderation so that plenty is left for other wildlife and other humans to enjoy.
  • Don’t take all the flowers otherwise no fruit will grow.
  • Don’t take all the fruits otherwise no seeds will grow.
  • Try to re-seed or encourage fresh growth for others to find and enjoy.
  • Be careful not to damage other vegetation when picking flowers. Also watch for thorns, stingers & plants such as hog weed which can cause rashes.
  • Picking nuts, berries, leaves etc. is permitted on Rights of Way, but the uprooting of any wild plants is illegal without the landowner’s permission.
  • Be careful not to trespass when picking (overhanging branches are okay though).
  • Untended road verges and public rights of way are often good sources of wild flowers, but look out for traffic!
  • Never take material from a nature reserve or protected site without permission.
  • Do not pick flowers such as poppies as they will wilt before you get them home.
  • Some plants and fungi are poisonous, so if you are not 100% certain that your identification is correct, do not eat them.
  • Avoid foraging where agricultural sprays or vehicle pollution may have contaminated produce (so avoid foraging near roads)
  • Take extra care with Japanese Knotweed, which is delicious but could have been sprayed and is covered by specific regulations.
  • Wash everything well before eating as it may have been peed on by dogs and other animals.
  • Do not forage without permission for commercial purposes (this is an offence under the Theft Act 1968)
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