We seem to have this image in our head that cities are heavily polluted places and that the countryside is pristine, though usually there are a lot more pesticides in agricultural areas. Some cities even offer online maps where you can find the most polluted areas that are unsuitable for harvesting plants. If you stay away from busy roads, there are usually a lot of options for foraging in cities. Once we change our perception, we can see the abundant possibilities of the urban jungle.
Here's my personal top 5:
- Your own garden. And mind you, it doesn't have to be a big one. Even if you just place a pot with soil on a windowsill outside, some wild edibles will grow there spontanuously. Picking in your own yard is easy, because it's near your house and you spend a lot of time there, and because you know for sue that the plants haven't been sprayed on.
- The park. More and more cities have banned the use of pesticides in parks and other green public places and leave more space for wild plants.
- A CSA (community supported agriculture) plot/organic farm. Our family is a huge fan of CSA, and we love to pick some wild plants along with the vegetables and fruits we harvest there. We are happy because we know that the soil and the wild edibles there are very healthy, and the farmer is happy because we help weeding. One of the best win-win situations one can imagine. Our CSA-project is on bike distance from the city, and if you don't happen to have one nearby, try another organic farming or permaculture project and help weeding.
- An allotment. In our area allotments are very popular and the waiting lists are long. However, if you are lucky enough to have one: try to find out more about the weeds you pull out and incorporate them into your diet. You'll be surprised!
- A friend's garden. If you don't have your own, and you don't feel comfortable foraging in public spaces, ask a friend (and preferably one that is into eco gardening). Usually people are very generous with their weeds (most want to get rid of them, remember?) and they may even be very interested in learning some recipes from you.