Urban shelter is the new frenzy in hometowns that has caught many people. It is a way to get closer to nature and find food, medicine and other valuable treasures in your own backyard – even if you live in the heart of a fast-growing metropolis.
Urban villagers typically filter their neighborhoods in search of edible plants and other goods. Also known as “wild crafting”, it is the act of collecting wild plants from public areas. These include parks, sidewalks and front yards.
This activity can be a great way to get out of nature on your own time and in your neighborhood. Furthermore, it is a way to improve your skills and live a life of self-reliance where you live.
Here are some tips on how to get started with urban forging today.
What is Urban Forging?
Urban foraging seems like a fashionable, hip and modern term, but in fact, it is a practice that has been essentially since the dawn of civilization.
The practice is to research, identify and then collect wild foods that grow naturally in your city. Examples may include nuts, mushrooms, roots, and flowers. Urban foraging is one of the easiest ways to interact with your landscape and become more self-sufficient, even if you live in the city.
All you need is a curiosity for nature and a brave palate to give it a try! It is accessible to everyone, regardless of where you live, and it can help you interact with your surroundings.
Believe it or not, there are probably more edible plants and other foods in your neighborhood than you might think.
Why consider urban forging?
There are countless benefits to giving urban effort a try.
For one, it is a lot of fun. What better way to spend a Saturday than by walking into your neighborhood, harvesting delicious greens and flowers that you can make a new recipe in the evening?
It can also help you interact more closely with your surroundings. You will be able to rethink how you use food in a world that is increasingly defined by climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation.
This is a good way to promote food security. While this will not form the bulk (or large percentage) of your food, it is a good way to get closer to your food and use more nutritious foods for free. You can add nutrients and variety to your diet, improving your health in the process.
The beauty of urban forging is that it allows you to try out modern homesteading principles, which are nowhere. You can be surrounded by buildings and sidewalks and still try your hand at survival skills. It is a pleasant pastime that can quickly become more than a hobby – and as a whole way of life.
Tips to start urban forging
Ready to start urban foraging in your backyard? Here are some tips for this long lost art to follow as someone new.
1. Research Local Plants and Animals
Before you do anything else, take the time to become an expert in whatever is growing around you. See a regional field guide to find out what is happening naturally in your state.
You do not have to put a heavy bang. Consider using one of the following apps to see a list of common edible plants, along with suggestions for identification. Many of these apps also offer fun recipes that you can try:
You should understand which plants are most likely to grow in your area and which are safe to eat. Many safe mushrooms and other plants become easily confused with the toxic look-a-bike, so educate yourself thoroughly before you leave. Learn the Latin names of plants, whenever possible, versus common names – that way, it will be easy for you to find out which is which.
2. Choose the ideal location
When it comes to urban forging, location is everything! Unlike forests in the jungle, urban area requires awareness of its surroundings.
Areas that are prone to high levels of pollution should be avoided, as those people may receive runoff from agricultural or industrial operations. Avoid roadways and areas near the road and forage in places that have many types of foliage, such as large parks, empty lots, and playgrounds.
You can also often find community-generated maps of online forging spots.
3. Bring Equipment With You
Do not leave your house empty handed. Make sure you bring some equipment along that will allow you to handle any type of counterfeit work easily (I recommend keeping all your gear in one bag).
At bare minimum, bring the following items together:
- Reusable bag or basket
- Small container or jar
- paper bags
- clasp knife
- Pen and paper (to record where and when you got your loot!)
4. Include your sessions
Identifying plants is not always easy, especially if you rely on the sense of sight alone. Feel the plants for their texture, as this can give you an idea if a plant is edible (or if you’re confusing it for a toxic lookalike).
For some goodies that you may like, such as mushrooms, you will need to correctly identify all parts of the mushroom. Including gills, cap and stem.
Use your nose to find out what a plant is. This can be helpful when identifying things like wild carrots – they will smell like carrots, while the luscious poison hemlock will give an unpleasant smell.
5. Do not over harvest
Remember that even if you are harvesting and foraging in the middle of a concrete jungle, there is a need to create some balance when balancing the city. You do not want to make any kind of environmental impact with your actions.
The good news about urban foraging, especially compared to other types of foraging, is that plants that grow in urban environments are generally well adapted to urban life. You do not have to worry about harming them, in most cases.
However, in all cases, choose only what you need. Plant species, even those growing in urban areas, are often food sources for animals. If an entire plant is edible, cut only a small part and consider leaving behind the parts that the plant needs to grow again (such as roots). In this way, you can ensure that your foraging will not harm the local ecosystem.
6. Start small
As a start, start by identifying easily identifiable plants – and they do not have toxic lookales. For example, when mushrooms are harvested, the base is sticking to four – giant puffballs, morale, chanterelle, and forest chicken.
These mushrooms have little in the way of poisonous twins, and they are also commonly found growing freely in parks, yards, and other metropolitan areas.
Of course, you can always go after the weeping plants too. They are flexible and can be found growing anywhere in the city.
Watch out for dandelions and purslane, two weeds that are found just growing everywhere and look delicious in salads, teas, and stir-fries. You can also cut bark, flowers, berries or leaves. These will work wonders in many types of cuisines.
7. Know the law
Be sure to research your local laws and bylaws before you take up tree pruning and collect berries in your neighborhood. Some cities do not allow you to occupy city property, even in underdeveloped areas like ravines.
You also have to see if pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals are used on the plants that grow in your city. While a simple rinsing of whatever crop you grow will usually do the trick, there are some places you can avoid.
8. Join a local (or online) group
Want more hands-on learning, especially if you are new to urban forging? Consider signing up for a forging class or guided tour. Some of these have a cost, but there are also free and donation-based courses that you can look into. With these classes, you will be able to know the basics of local edible plants.
You can often find classes offered by the city’s park departments, environmental organizations, or even libraries.
Do not ignore the strength of your peers. You can often find local forging groups on social media so that you can pair up to learn more in a risk-free manner.
Be duty bound
Urban forging is an activity that allows you to explore your city in a new way. The best part about foraging in a city is the opportunity to connect with nature and take advantage of what is around you.
However, this is not to say that you should take full advantage. When you start forcing yourself for a living or fun, remember that you should not take too much. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of urban foraging, but it is important to remember that your environment (even a solid forest!) Depends on balance to stay healthy.
Be honest to that environment and respect yourself and the things around you. In this way, you and other urban forest dwellers will enjoy the landscape for years to come.
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Idea Source: morningchores.com