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How to Forage in the City

While in Asheville, I found these cherries behind a building in a residential neighborhood I frequent. I hadn’t noticed them before which made me wonder if I wasn’t being observant or if this past winter was ideal for cherries. Many fruits need the perfect quantity of chill hours followed by a period without snap freezes to produce.

Photo Caption: I wonder who originally planted the old tree these golden cherries came from. I asked permission to harvest them (and was met with surprise that there was a cherry tree on the property).

I collect black walnuts in the same location every year.

Sometimes we guard our foraging spots and sometimes we want to share. For latter cases, there are foraging websites popping up online where you can input the location and variety of wild foraged foods.

Neighborhood Fruit, as the name would suggest, focuses primarily on fruit that is available to the public. has a broader scope of food items. Both of them come with phone apps (and count as one of the rare times phone apps have sounded tempting to me — though I also liked the star gazing one that identifies constellations and most of the field guides for things like bird calls or mushrooms). There are a few foraging websites specific to a single city, but none of the ones I’m aware of cover the Appalachian region. However, if you’re reading this from outside the foothills, you might find your city listed here.

You may also want some field guides to tell you what is edible beyond easily recognizable things like cherries. In that case, we recommend that you get anything by Samuel Thayer. His books The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden are some of the best we’ve ever seen (and they feature different plants, so both are worth purchasing).

Mulberries, elder flowers, and chanterelles are some of the foods in season this week. Happy foraging!

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