Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hey now!

Last week I got an email from a woman at a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, TN. Seems someone had been helping themselves to the berries and vegetables from the church gardens planted "specifically...to provide food for the local WIC program and their food training program." When confronted about their harvesting the "foragers" (and picking from someone else's garden hardly qualifies as foraging) made reference to the Land Scouts' Knoxville Map.

Now listen here folks: foraging isn't just a fancy word for stealing. And if you're taking from somebody's garden without their permission, that's not foraging. That's stealing. So please don't do that. Or, if you insist in doing that, don't call yourself a Land Scout. That's not how we do.

Berries often grow wild and are easy to harvest without destroying the plant or taking all of them. 

There's an etiquette to foraging and if you're not going to be mindful of the plants and people who feed you, I'd just as soon you stayed at home and watched some Netflix. Here for your convenience is a reminder of some of the rules of foraging in your city:
  1. Always positively identify plants with an excellent guide or guide book. Never be in a rush to try something. In fact, you should expose your body to new plants slowly. Start by rubbing a small portion of the plant on your wrist and waiting 12 hours. Yes, 12! A whole half a day. That way you can see if the plant causes you to break out in hives. If, after 12 hours, you have no reaction, eat a very small amount and wait again. Remember: there are old foragers and bold foragers, but no old bold foragers. 
  2. Never take all of something. Don't harvest more than 1/3 of a plant. If possible, leave behind seeds, stems, or as much of the plant as possible. Especially since most of us are not depending on these plants for sustenance it is greedy and destructive to harvest all of something.
  3. Be smart and considerate of land. This means honoring private property and taking care not to trample or destroy habitat. If an apple falls on the sidewalk, that's the commons and fair game. If you step into the wrong person's yard to retrieve an apple, that's going to be a tense conversation or much worse. You never know when someone's lurking and watching you through the window so don't EVER harvest from someone's property without asking. Just ask. Most people are happy to share so long introduce yourself, take care not to crush their flowers, and don't steal their stuff. 
Yard apples or "drops" are good foraging-- just ask first before crossing into someone's yard. 

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