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!

Eliza Lord

I'm a Greenville, SC native (the Appalachian foothills) who wears the hats of Greenville Master Gardener & Upstate Master Naturalist. I love to write about food and sustainability.

4 thoughts on “How to Forage in the City”

  1. PlantPostings
    Twitter: plantpostings
    - June 8, 2013 12:26 am

    Nice! Soon we’ll have Black Raspberries, Blueberries, and Mulberries here. It’s always fun and healthful to eat them fresh. And I can’t wait to eat berry crisp. Thanks for all the resources!
    PlantPostings´s last blog post ..Plant of the month: Viburnum opulus

  2. Donna@Gardens Eye View - June 8, 2013 8:57 am

    Nice find. Where used to live it was awash in a sea of black walnuts!
    Donna@Gardens Eye View´s last blog post ..Gardens Eye Journal-June 2013

  3. Donna - June 9, 2013 7:39 pm

    Great idea finding free food, especially looking in a city. There is black walnut tree behind my house and my husband’s grandfather invented a machine that gets to the nuts. Very cool contraption he made in his basement. Plus we get loads of nuts off him.
    Donna´s last blog post ..The Need to Care

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