by Ulla Kaja Radeloff
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
- 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.
- 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:
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.