There’s a lot written about foraging these days. Amazing recipes full of greens we’ve never heard of, mysterious mushrooms, and even the leaves and bark of trees. These strange and wonderful plants can feel like they come from another world, quite far away from our city lives. So foraging becomes something to do at the weekends, or when we next have the time, if we ever have the time…
But there’s a way of accessing the magical world of wild plants without having to spend money on a course or take a precious holiday day. If we take a look at our city from a different point of view, it’s surprisingly easy to find a range of places where wild plants are thriving.
Wild plants love the places that people tend to forget. Around the edges of parks, in untended gardens, and along the bike and canal paths, there is often a profusion of wild food. The plants that foragers look for tend to thrive on disturbed ground, which is good news for city foragers who want to learn about these mysterious plants but don’t have the luxury of time to stray far from home.
Most cities are also built along rivers whose banks are skirted by paths that drift away from the roads. In these lovely clean spaces there is time and space to slow down and meander, get into a different rhythm more attuned to the flow of the river itself than the frenetic pace of the day to day.
And this is where foraging offers something that can help us deeply relax. Gathering wild food asks us to walk more slowly, and to really look at the plants that we normally stroll straight past. This kind of walking can feel like a meditation, a gentle way of centering the mind and slowing down the breath, so that you enter a peaceful state without even trying.
This kind of meditative walking can become a daily practice. A way of bringing together time for meditation, and some time spent immersed in green. Both things that bring with them a world of stress-reducing benefits.
We recommend taking a moment when you’re next walking home from work to stop when you see a patch of green and pausing to really look at the plants growing there. What can seem like a wall of green might surprise you with the wild variety of plants growing right on our doorstep. Take time to breathe, and time to see… there’s no easier way to fall in love with your city all over again.
Useful foraging books to get started:
- Harraps – Guide to Wild Flowers
- River Cottage – Hedgerow
- Richard Mabey – Food for Free
Places to look for wild plants:
- Your unweeded garden!
- Alongside rivers and canals
- Bike paths
- Alleyways behind houses
- Building sites