Urban Foraging

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by B Griffin, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Some of you may still remember some of the discussions I have started here on urban survival methods and techniques over the last dozen or so years. The recent discussion on wild foraging, and some questions sent by private message by people who do remember those posts, inspired me to put together a series of articles on foraging and hunter-gathering in urbanized terrain. This recent piece I did was an intro for that in one of the places where some of my articles are published.

    https://fiddlebackforge.com/blogs/articles/urban-foraging

    I love munching on wild snacks while wandering the local parks and even some of the back alleys in the city where old home places have deteriorated and fruit trees and wild brambles still grow there in the city, during the summer and autumn months. We have a lot of blackberries, mulberries, wine raspberries, passion fruit, and nut trees that grow in this region, even in the inner cities. And sometimes I find oyster mushrooms and hen of the woods in local urban woods. Are any of you guys into urban foraging?

    Blackberries in a local park
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    Mulberries in another park
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    Rose hips at an a old abandoned business
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    Ground cherries in another area
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    And there are different kinds of competition to deal with. Because cities have just as many, if not more, insects to contend with
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    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
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  2. allenC

    allenC

    Jun 18, 2000
    If it were true survival , sure, why not?
    But where I live there's not much public land to forage upon.
    And taking fruit or nuts or berries from private property is very much frowned upon.
    Some folks would even set their dogs loose on you.
     
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  3. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    With some of the stupidity of the government entities and the local politics here, I sometimes forget just how lucky I am to be here on some levels, and posts like this one remind me. Between part of the Cumberland Trail, various pocket wildernesses, and the river walk with all its branches and individual parks along it, we have thousands of acres of public use land and a huge variety of feral berries fruits and nuts. I snacked on mulberries in three public parks during the end of spring and beginning of summer, raid blackberries all over the place, and picked some passion fruit, which is our state wild flower, from a tree line on the edge of a parking lot a few days ago. Most of the city population here just walks by it, oblivious to what is edible around them and what isn't. I keep up with what grows where as a matter of information to have just in case, but I snack on it while checking on it because I've grown up eating the wild fruits and berries.
     
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  4. Currawong

    Currawong Platinum Member Platinum Member

    May 19, 2012
    This kind of thing is a bit harder to do in Australia as there's less you can eat, but my Aunt has been doing an 'edible weeds' course in Sydney and apparently there's enough around at least for a snack.
     
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  5. Mikel_24

    Mikel_24

    Sep 19, 2007
    By far, the most abundant berry arround here are blackberries. They are basically a plage. You can find them literally everywhere there is a green patch. Unless you specifically remove them, they are stubborn and will keep on growing. No need to go to the mountains to get them.
     
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  6. fishiker

    fishiker

    Nov 5, 2006
    My 5 year old son has taken a great interest in foraging wherever we go. Over the past month we've picked apples from several trees, pears, sassafras, and one of the biggest chicken of the woods mushrooms I've ever found. Best part is that all were within 20 feet of a paved road or parking area. We've got our eyes set on a stand of pawpaw trees and a few wild grapes that should be ripe soon.
     
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  7. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    This is awesome, I love posts like this!
     
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  8. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I think if you have any interest at all in the outdoors, it is important that you develop a library of sorts (in your head perhaps) of things that are edible whether it be in the woods or an urban park. Most of us don't get out in the outdoors outside our urban routine often, but having the knowledge adds to the outdoor experience. The same applies to being able to identify trees, shrubs, wild flowers, and plants in general in the outdoors.
     
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  9. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Yes, I agree. Mine started out in my head and remained there for the first 20 years, then as I grew older it grew larger than I could keep up with and digital imaging came along. So now it is roughly 5K images in 90 folders in a file backed up on multiple hard drives. Which makes it much easier to use as stock images for the articles I write that touch on the subjects, and in my slide shows for my plants and animal ID lectures in workshops :)
     
  10. j_d

    j_d

    281
    Jan 14, 2006
    I have ran into some guys in the spring crusing allies for poke greens.
     
  11. milesofalaska

    milesofalaska Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    420
    Dec 4, 2010
    I see a comment about illegal on private property. Just get permission, "I'm hungry mind if I pick these weeds?" I sometimes offer something in return. Dried mushrooms, tea, sharpen their knife. In a war zone, reload ammunition. Some weeds like dandelion grow in public sidewalks or parking lots. Good to at least have knowledge of what and how to preserve. Dry, can freeze or ferment like kimshi are options. Or, combine a vacation in the pucker brush with the time certain harvestables are ripe. In my community someone keeps a cow on their lot! If anyone needs weeds gone, lawn mowed, trees trimmed, "Bring the cow!" I myself trim bushes and weed my garden and put all that in a cart and bring it to the cow. In return we own a share of the cow. It's like a community cow and we all get milk. (It's illegal to sell raw milk. But you can have the milk if you own the cow). A creative way to find a useful resource in greenery we forget is worth something. I have some related video, like a plant civilization has not identified, that I find out in the wilds of Alaska. Can you tell me what the plant is? In 20 years no one has been able to, because it does not exist. Since this is a knife forum, knowing about good cutting tools for harvest can be important. I have made custom blades. Like knowing D2 steel works well for tools used in rocky otugh soil and where you do not want the blade to stain from berry juice. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6rGYHPMIY0mjRI1K0-D6M6RNS7BDD7c
     
  12. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    As a kid, my father taught us about plants in the woods including tree identification. I developed a wild flower hobby (many of which are edible or useful) with a 35mm slide library of sorts. I started buying all wild flower and plant identification books I ran into in the various states I have lived in or spent a lot of time. Wild Orchids became a dominant interest. With the change from 35mm film to 35mm digital, there was about a 10 year hiatus for me between the two formats other than I purchased a cheap point & shoot digital for documentation purposes (mostly work) and I saw what cheap really means in the digital world (barely adequate). However, as with all technology, "cheap" has gotten a lot better over time in terms of image quality.

    Most of my photos are saved by date and general location or primary focus (Example; 2019 05 14 Hiwassee River). This method is becoming grossly inadequate with thousands of images saved/stored. But the outdoor photos certainly revolve around certain interest areas. So, how do you organize things? Beyond archiving on other hard drives or the cloud, do you save multiple copies of the same photo inside various folders? Do you pull what you consider excellent images into other files? I still haven't figured out a good practical method.
     
  13. milesofalaska

    milesofalaska Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    420
    Dec 4, 2010
    On the subject of organizing photos. I have taken thousands of pictures over several decades. I have a system I like, a code. A three letter code followed by a brief description followed by a date. I sell art and raw materials, write books, take wildlife pictures, sunsets, plants etc. Keeping track can be nuts. The first letter is the biggest category, R= raw material, A = some kind of art. S = scenery of some sort. The second letter is the next subcategory. In your case S (scenery) would have S-P which means scenery-plant. The 3rd breakdown might be W= wild, D= domestic, G= garden, M= medicinal etc. Followed by a name. So S-P-M -Arnica- 120 means Arnica plant taken the first month of 2020. I can then do a computer search if I need to for all S-P-M. Or if I forget if it's edible I can do search for just just S-P and maybe a ballpark date. It is vast undertaking to rename thousands of pictures. What I did was create folders, like a folder called SP. I have at first 3-4 folders minimized on the desktop. I open my unorganized photo files, and drag drop pictures in one of the 3-4 folders. I fill the folders, close those folders, open 3 new folders with M-G-W (medicinal garden wild) and open a previous filled file and drop drag that filled file into the empty newly created next category, like 'M' folder. 1,000 photos can be sorted into 6 folders in an hour. I can then search all my external thumbs, other computers, eventually get it all sorted in one place by transferring with a thumb drive between computers. I now have a 4 terabyte external hard drive that will be hard to overfill. I found the need when I began saving U-tubes I create and all the parts, with video being a gig per video there is no room for all on a normal thumb drive, nor on the computer. In theory I can partition the external 4 terabyte and back up all 5 of my computers, all 10 of my external drives, and all of it no matter what, will not likely get over 4 terabyte. So far all of it is under half a terabite. Hope my solution is helpful. I used one other method as it does get overwhelming. I have a folder for "Before 2000" And a folder for "used the most." I can usually recall if what I am looking for is over 20 years old. I can usually recall if it is a favorite picture I value and email and share a lot. I back up the entire 4 terabyte drive on a second 2 terabyte (for now- since the entire data is less then half a terabyte) - so if the main drive goes bonkers I have not lost everything. The computer only holds favorites and pictures in a temp file I have not had time to sort yet. I may only sort once a year. As a writer who illustrates my books I may have to do a lot of looking to find an illustration I am happy with. My folders might get 100 pictures big, but find that 'do-able' looking for something, compared to 'thousands.' of unrelated pictures.
     
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  14. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    @milesofalaska Going to have to think about your system as to how it might work for me. I appreciate your telling me.

    One of the things I didn't anticipate was how quickly and with absolute certainty how things went from film to digital. I was certainly a hold out with 35mm film for a number of years. I have sold a few things, but it is not something I set out to do as a hobbyist picture taker. But I just got a new lens at Christmas and if I use it, it should open up a lot of doors in the wildlife photography area that were closed to me due to my available lenses. The hardest ones for me are bear cubs.... you don't want to get too close and they can be tiny subjects (puppy size). Mommy doesn't like us humans getting close to her cubs. They are almost always in lower light areas, lots of distracting vegetation, or moving to some degree and you have to pay attention to what's in focus and what's not as best you can. My one brother just blasts away with the camera, many images, where as I tend to wait for "the shot" and hopefully take a couple in quick succession. Opportunities come up and you have to have a plan and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity. You also have to recognize when an opportunity develops that is exceptional and that takes some experience. I don't photoshop my images much, maybe a little cropping for composition....

    Added: You don't preserve the original frame number or do you still save the original in the date format just in case in a separate folder?

    This kind of discussion is what bugs me over in the photography sub forum. It simply doesn't get many responses when it is a topic that should be useful to just about everyone doing nature photography.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  15. milesofalaska

    milesofalaska Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    420
    Dec 4, 2010
    I do not want to get off topic to much, this is after all, a knife forum.... but a note. So you use 'W' for 'wildlife' and followed by 'B' for bear. If you create a folder named WB and drop all the existing bear pictures in it you do not need to rename each photo. If you name a photo and simply have a W by itself in the name or code, when you want to find all 'W' pictures and put 'W' in your search engine any photo with a 'W' isolated in part of it's name will show up in the search. (Or WB) As a knife maker I can keep track of knife pictures, designs and connect them to customers. I can separate out my personal pictures so I am not scrolling through 'Mom' pictures, or art or sunsets. I'm told understanding spread sheets would be better, but do not understand spread sheets. Bear cubs? With bear momma signed consent? (smile). Oh, yes I have an original file in case I want to go back and start all over before I cropped edited reduced size etc. However in the long haul I end up mass deleting except the top ten I might be able to sell or could need for a poster etc. As you note, there can be many that look sort of the same. I call the folder Raw but could be Originals. I've never in 40 years gone back to it. I find I am better off creating items to sell rather than offering raw pictures. Such as going to Vista print and having postcards, T shirts, mugs, notecards, mousepads etc done, then offering them to gift shops wholesale. Like pay 5 cents a postcard, wholesale for 10 cents, the store retails them for 20 cents. Not tons of $ but not hard to make $100. Multiply that times 10 pictures.... it's still time-wise just a hobby to supplement other income. One of the topic here is 'survival.' Part of this is putting up food, recognizing useful plants, but as well, ways to acquire stuff we need, jobs when jobs are tight, how to buy the basics we need be openminded, adaptable. Having knowledge on how to take pictures and figuring out a market is in my view, a part of this. Part of my interest is 'security 'type pictures to protect our stuff. Trip cameras, delays, somewhat related to taking bear pictures.
     
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  16. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    @milesofalaska I consider this a side bar to urban survival. It is not just about knives regardless of it being a knife forum. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. As mentioned, I need to think about this. To pull my photos out of their original files is a little scary. I realize I can back everything up the way it is before I make any changes.

    Two of my brothers are big bird guys along with my brother's son-in-law and daughter. They have some incredible pictures of birds.
     
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  17. Kailash Blades

    Kailash Blades KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    364
    Nov 21, 2015
    Have a friend in Melbourne who's been doing similar courses. A lot of the introduced weeds are relatives of lettuce and sorrel and things, plenty of mushrooms too. They've been doing that alongside some bush tucker stuff as well and there's a surprising amount of natives that are edible in one form or another especially along rivers, but some do require proper cooking and preparation to not poison yourself.
    A barrier to practicing this kind of thing is that you never know if the mushroom patch or blackberries or whatever it may be has just been sprayed by the council. I got caught by this in my teens and it was an experience I will never forget, nor will my parents let me.
     
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  18. Boombats

    Boombats Gold Member Gold Member

    211
    Mar 21, 2010
    This thread has me considering posting pics of urban foraging for Datura root...
     

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