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Foraging Plain and Simple

Foraging is fun, family friendly and free!


I want to offer you an introduction to foraging by keeping things simple. Choosing plants that are most common and easiest to identify.


There are just a few simple rules to follow when foraging. Some are law, some etiquette but most are common sense.


foraging - a tin with wild mushrooms in it

1. LOCATION

If foraging on private land, it’s always good practice to first seek permission from the landowner. But if you were to wander onto land and forage where you have not done so, you would not be breaking any laws as we have the right to forage in the UK. There have been many attempts to stop foraging over the years, by various landowners, no one has ever succeeded in doing so. But it is always polite to seek permission first.


 If foraging along a well-trodden path or roadside, consider there is a chance of contamination, car exhausts, chemical sprays or even dogs’ contamination.

 

2. EQUIPMENT FOR FORAGING

I generally take a wicker basket, but equally a carrier bag will do. I just find if I’m picking leafy foliage it's less likely to get crushed. Also, when blackberry picking in the past, I have snagged and ripped plastic bags on the thorns of the bushes, ending in a gaping hole. So, I pop a plastic tub in my basket for soft fruits.


Gloves are a must and there is always something prickly or stingy that you will encounter, all of a hedgerow plant type. A walking stick with a hook is a very useful tool, whether to grab a branch and pull it down or to move a nettle or such out of the way. Stout walking boots or wellingtons and a pair of scissors!

 

3. THE 4F’S

The countryside law says that it is not illegal to forage anything that is growing wild above ground. Fruit, flora, fungus and foliage. (The 4 F’s)


But it is illegal to uproot plants without the landowner’s permission. It is illegal in accordance with the WAC The wildlife and Countryside act 1981.  It is also illegal to sell any foraged goods under the WAC act, foraged goods must only be taken for your own use and not for commercial use, unless again you have permission from the landowner.


There is an unwritten foraging etiquette also that you should never strip a plant bear, or an area. Only take small amounts and my personal rule is when I leave it should look like I had never been there at all.


There are a few rare and protected plants in the UK and it's always wise to make yourself familiar before setting off.  There is a wonder book available that I always keep by my side when foraging,


The Foragers Calendar, A seasonal guide to nature's wild harvest by John Wright. This book is a wealth of information and makes a wonderful gift, I have in the past gifted copies to families who are also interested in foraging.

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Meet Sue & Katie

Two women. Two generations. Both mothers and lovers of the county where they live. Blogging about Dorset here at Dorset Country Life. Find out more...

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