Urban Foraging

I’ve lived in both the city and the country, played at growing things on window sills and had the serious food-producing garden, but find the idea of urban foraging an interesting concept. My rebellious period involved guerrilla gardening (I was SUCH a rebel). Not familiar with the term? Basically it means when other young people were out partying and experimenting, my friends and I were…gardening. Under cover of darkness.
Dork alert!
Mostly this involved planting stuff in unkempt city lots or sprinkling wildflower seeds alongside freeways. There’s one particular stretch of highway that still blooms with the morning glories I planted a looong time ago. That’s a fairly invasive plant with vining growth. The sight always makes me smile when I drive past.

If you’ve never heard of (made or used), seed bombs – get with the program folks! Teach this technique to your children (teens love it) and set them loose on the city. There’s a stretch of Burlington Northern’s rail line between Portland and Eugene that has benefited from those handy opening windows in the lower rail cars. Not that I had anything to do with opening one. Ever.

I particularly like the idea of foraging in urban settings. My first reaction is to visualize neighbors creeping out early in the morning to forage clandestinely through each other’s yards. It’s a very Wallace & Gromit image. Identifying what is edible is critical – or like a bad mushroom collector, you end up holding down a marble slab. Be smart and buy your fungi.
What have you consumed from the great outdoors? Ever create a meal not produced from market items? What would your environs offer the local forager?

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  1. #1 by jennifer tanner on August 24, 2011 - 6:36 pm

    I remember picking pears at an abandoned orchard near my house as a kid. The acreage was purchased by the university for expansion and the fruit was left unharvested. Although I love mushrooms, I'm too chicken to forage for them. 😉

  2. #2 by Lesann Berry on August 24, 2011 - 9:40 pm

    I wish I lived next to an abandoned orchard filled with ripe pears. Yum. My family used to collect morel mushrooms when I was tiny – those are the ones that look like a sponge bouffont stuck on a slug. I've heard too many stories of people kicking off from choosing the bad fungus, to try it these days. I'm sure people ingest other things that make them sick, but I never hear about somebody eating seeds and winding up in the emergency room.

  3. #3 by Naomi Bulger on August 24, 2011 - 11:09 pm

    Foraging scares me – there's so much that's poisonous in Australia – but guerilla gardening has always been something I wanted to join (dork alert indeed!). Of course, I've now moved to a city that has more gardens than anywhere else I've ever been, so there's little point. Maybe the seed bombs will be the go…

  4. #4 by Lesann Berry on August 24, 2011 - 11:26 pm

    I am not a brave forager but I do pounce on things I know are edible. Blackberries grown rampant around my home and are a safe wild crop to gather – so much sweeter than store-bought. The seed bombs are fun – they're good for containers and square-foot gardening too.

  5. #5 by Tameri Etherton on August 25, 2011 - 2:33 am

    I'm afraid I'd be kicked out of any guerilla gardening squad. I kill anything green by just looking at it. Seriously. I do LOVE the idea of the seed bombs. I'm going to definitely try that one!

  6. #6 by Lesann Berry on August 25, 2011 - 3:50 am

    You just need harder-to-kill plants! Seed-bombs are great fun. Enjoy!

  7. #7 by Angela Orlowski-Peart on August 25, 2011 - 7:20 pm

    I love the idea of guerrilla gardening! How cool 🙂 In the last two or three years I've noticed a lot of gorgeous poppies growing along some local roads and highways. I wonder if the city or some guerrilla gardeners are responsible for it. We visit farmer's markets in the area quite often and buy produce, flowers, honey, pastries etc. I have my own tiny organic garden, where I grow a few kinds of lettuces, tomatoes, various herbs, flowers. My parents have always had either their own garden or a city patch so I grew up with a love for gardening.

  8. #8 by annalisegreen on August 25, 2011 - 7:21 pm

    I've never heard of guerilla gardening before, and this sounds totally totally awesome. I might invest in some seed bombs myself…

  9. #9 by Lesann Berry on August 25, 2011 - 7:53 pm

    I miss having a garden but with no way to restrict the deer…it's a lost cause. I've plans to build a tiny greenhouse which will satisfy the urge and foil the ungulates.Seed-bombs and guerilla gardening are fun – I encourage everyone to try it out!

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