gleaning – another kind of foraging

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    Another way that I have ‘foraged’ foods in an urban setting is by ‘gleaning’. The park dept will often let you pick up windfall apples (although you have to explain A LOT that you will not sue them because you found a worm in their unsprayed fruits.) I find I can glean about 50% good apple for sauce from the park apples. Neighbors with apples will let you pick up their windfalls as it saves them having to do so before they mow the lawn. Even crabapples make nice jelly.

    I ask folks who are ‘thinning out’ their landscape plants in the spring if I can have their thinnings. I have landscaped my entire yard this way. Emphasis is on edible AND ornamental items such as the highbush cranberry which not only has medicinal bark, the berries make delightful jelly. Dahlia bulbs are all edible, though they may not taste so good. You have to sample them to find the tasty ones. Daylily buds are tasty – boiled like snap beans – and the leaves make excellent cordage and basketry material (and they spread like crazy so people thin them a lot).

    If you offer to help thin the veggies in a garden, the thinnings are edible, ditto many of the ‘weeds’ like purslane (plant source of omega 3 fatty acids, good in gumbo), lambs quarters, and any of the mustards (if young they are milder). Strawberry plants have to be thinned, and cutting from raspberries root easily. They often need thinning, too.

    All maples and some other trees (birch and boxelder) can be tapped for syrup. I have found folks who will let me tap theirs in return for a share of the syrup.

    Farmers’ fields (if you have any near enough) often can be gleaned (get permission!) especially if they are used to grow crops for the canning companies (peas from the field corners, corn that the corn-pickers miss or even picked up from where they load the trucks and drop a lot, potatoes left by the mechanical pickers, are all just as edible as any fresh anywhere, and if you can or freeze them….SCOOOOORE! Gleaning is a fun adventure for children.

    You might stop by the local state-run truck scale during potato season. Many of the overloads end up being dumped (when they think nobody is looking). Of course, you cant deal with 1,000 lb of potatoes, but the local food pantry might love you to bring some extras in!

    Car-killed deer in my state can be claimed by the first person who comes along if the driver of the car does not want it. With some cutting, you can load the freezer! Call the DNR or state traffic cops for tags. You can have as many as you come across – I know one farmer who claimed 7 car-kills as his farm ran along the highway, and he wanted to eat the deer that had been fattening on his corn all year! I also had NO trouble (before I retired as state trooper) giving away deer meat the last few years. The DNR officer says you can live trap any ‘pests’ on your own property and dispose of them as you will – for me that means squirrel, possum and rabbit meat in the freezer or jars. (I have recipes for other critters, just in case, but those are most common in my neck of the woods). Live-traps in an urban area on your own property are not illegal.

    I’m sure if you think outside the box you can think of more places to glean or forage in your area. Maybe these will get the ideas coming….

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