Guidelines for Sustainable Foraging

by Ulla Kaja Radeloff

Transient

There is edible stuff growing all around us, and we believe in exploring
it fully. But free resources tend to be abused – so we wanted to create some guidelines
to ensure these plants continue to flourish and so we can all enjoy the foraged
harvest for years to come.

  • Respect nature and
    always act with care.
  • Take only as much as
    you are able to use. Nothing goes to waste.
  • Many countries have national
    foraging laws to prevent overharvesting , defining where, what, and how much
    is legal to take. For example, the same species might be legal to pick in
    one country and endangered in another. Make sure you know the law before
    you go.
  • Always pay attention
    to and respect local conditions. A plant may be legal to forage, and
    abundant in some areas, but rare in others. Think like a steward.
  • Ask for permission
    before foraging on private land.
  • Choose unpolluted
    places far from industrial land, roads, or fields, which are free of heavy
    metals, pesticides, and other toxicants.
  • Harvest from vibrant
    plants in healthy sites.
  • Pick only the species
    that are growing in abundance, and don´t take any whole plant.  Instead, use a pair of scissors to snip
    off the plant´s top parts or a knife to cut mushrooms. Thus you maintain
    the organism’s ability to reproduce. A good rule of thumb is the
    “1-in-20 Rule”, which says that you should never harvest more
    than 5% of a particular plant or population of plants.
  • Don´t harvest what you
    can´t identify. Take home a small cutting or photograph it and use
    literature, internet resources and experts to help identify the species.
    Educate yourself!
  • Avoid trampling down
    other species. Your harvesting should be spread out over a large area. The
    site where you foraged should look natural afterwards – as if you had
    never been there. 
  • Harvest moss and lichens
    without damaging the tree´s bark.
  • Peel off bark and
    cambium only from felled trees.
  • Seaweed should be
    harvested far from sewage outfall buoys, industrial pollutants, and mouths
    of estuaries. Cut the top part of young plants from a healthy community
    that are still firmly attached to the rock. Avoid floating seaweed.

If you are not sure about how and what to forage take advantage of the
help of professional foragers. They have a thorough knowledge. Moreover, they
make their living with these goods and thus hold a clear interest in
maintaining these wild resources.

Professional foragers and wild plant experts:

In Denmark
Søren Wiuff
info@asparges.com
http://wiuff.wordpress.com/

Søren Espersen
Tordenhuset
tordenhuset@mail.dk

In Sweden
Roland Rittman
roland@rolandrittman.com
http://rolandrittman.com/en/

Ulla Kaja Radeloff has worked with multiple organisations in sustainable agriculture
and botany, and recently graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of
Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy. She currently lives and works in Berlin.