Abundance London, Chiswick
An advocate of the free, pick-it-yourself forays, Abundance is a non-profit, community run project that harvests the seasonal glut of fruit in London. Apples, pear, plums, quinces, cherries and grapes are the main plucks of choice for the volunteers that harvest, distribute and sell the produce to local restaurants. You can also contribute to the project’s electronic effort by mapping out a potential tree for picking on the organisation’s Chiswick Fruit map.
Urban Harvest, North London
The Facebook of foraging, this online network organises regular scavenging and juicing sessions. The website has a special section for finding fellow foragers if you’re seeking a buddy in addition to fresh foodstuffs. Besides planning off-beat events such as edible flower walks and urban plum harvesting, the site also offers the chance to learn more about making tea and customizing vodka from your own hand-picked ingredients.
Hackney Harvest, Hackney
True tree-lovers, the volunteers at Hackney Harvest make sure no tree goes uncharted on their master map of the area. Every fortnight 30 people are sent out to harvest crops, map trees and pick excess fruit. If the original tree owners aren’t enthusiastic about the fruits of their tree’s labours, volunteers happily take the surplus to make jams, chutneys, cakes, flans and ciders.
Transition Belsize, Belsize
Anyone who lives, works or plays in the NW3 area is welcome to join the movement for a greener and happier Belsize. The focus of this effort is on fun, and special groups specializing in arts, education, energy, food and wellbeing ensure that all foragers can pursue their interest areas. Part of the “transition” also involved creating a friendly code of conduct for foragers.
Getting to the countryside is easier said than done. That’s why Forage London’s John Rensten founded his woodsy walks. City-dwellers can escape in London’s parks and learn what’s safe to eat, and more importantly, what isn’t. Each walk lasts about 2.5 hours and costs £25, but gives priceless information about nutrition, medicine, herbalism and cookery.
London Foraging Course
Need professional help for all of your foraging insecurities? Robin Harford is your man. The author of the wild food guide Eatweeds was featured on BBC Two’s Edwardian Farm for his scavenging prowess. His one-day courses explore “edible London”, from its folklore to the perfect way to prepare a light lunch from your foraged findings.
Trade the tube for the trail on this one-day safari, hosted by London’s own culinary anthropologist. Summer tours give you the opportunity to collect cherry plums, elderflower, chickweed, nettles and wild garlic. All of the food that you pick safely (and legally) will be used to masterfully make fritters, pies, pestos and jellies. The £150 price tag isn’t cheap, but the recipes you take home with pay for themselves many times over.
Fungi to Be With
Now doesn’t Andy Overall sound like a fun guy? The fungal-expert leads you on a funky tour of London’s famous green spaces, including Wimbledon Common, Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest. His insight into the diverse depths of toadstools is enchantingly earthy, and you’re sure to leave knowing your shiitake from your porcini.
Images via Getty