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Thread: I'm interested in foraging and doing a project for school and would like some help

  1. #1

    Default I'm interested in foraging and doing a project for school and would like some help

    Hello, I'm doing a project for school about foraging and am trying to learn more about the activity so that I can better cater to the correct group. If you could provide me with some answers I would be most appreciative.


    What equipment do you use for gathering and carrying the food that you find?

    Do you carry a book or other resource with you for identifying what you find?

    What safety gear do you use when it comes to protecting yourself from snakes and other animals you might come in contact with?

    What do you do with your gathered food when you return home, cleaning, storage, preparation?


  2. #2
    Gadget Master oldsoldier's Avatar
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    Maybe drop over to the introduction section and tell us a little about yourself. That way we can provide better answers. Especially question #3 the answer would be different if you're living in New York city than in the Amazonian rain forest.
    But using where I live as an example.

    1. normally I carry a few gallon size Ziploc bags, label them for whatever plant/root/fruit I'm gathering. I also carry a strong thick bladed knife and a hand trowel for digging root plants. All of which I pack in a daypack along with some water and emergency supplies.

    2. Sometimes I carry a reference book but not normally. If I am out looking for specific plants i am quite familiar with them and really don't need the book to comfirm it. BUT I do have one in my vehicle in case I run across something I've seen and not sure of. I take a picture. Drop a GPS mark and research and decide if I want to go back for it.

    3. I wear boots, heavy jeans or similar pants. Good leather gloves, and watch very carefully where I walk, squat, or where I reach. I carry a firearm just as a precaution.

    4. first thing is clean and separate each "plant" I've gathered. normally rinsing with water and using my hands to remove any dirt. Then depending on what the plant is how I store it. Many I can just hang and let dry keeping an eye open for molding,mildewing, or rotting. Some I set up to dehydrate. Some I use immediately things like Dandelion greens, cattail and such get prepared and eaten in a salad or similar.

    The biggest thing you need to know is ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GATHERING AND USING!!! Several species of plant that are tasty and great to eat have similar "cousins" that can do serious harm to or even kill you!!!
    My suggestion is read up as much as you can. Hopefully find someone who knows what they're doing and learn from them! I have been dealing with edible and medicinal plants for over 40 years! I know over 200 plants and have a basic knowledge of over 100 more. BUT even I defer to others on some plants.
    If by what I have learned over the years, allow me to help one person to start to prepare. If all the mistakes I have made, let me give one person the wisdom that allows them to save their life or the life of a loved one in an emergency. Then I will truly know that all the work I have done will have been worth every minute.

  3. #3

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    Most of my foraging is out in the back yard. Dandelions, mostly. Though I have foraged for blueberries and blackberries and beach plums. Not so much any more.

    If you want infromation look around for a botanical garden near you and see if they offer an "edibles walkthrough." Most of the wild gardens around here off them about once a month. You don't always get to eat, but you get to see the plant and hear its uses.

    1. You take the container to hold the plant you are foraging for. You know what season it is, you know what you are going out to look for. Dandelions go in a colander for instant washing indoors. For blueberries and blackberries and beach plums I have a bucket that hangs from a looped string so I can hang it around my neck or from my belt, leaving both hands free to handle the plants and berries. I may have a larger bucket or a berry flat with me to dump the string bucket into. I use the same when I go to the farms for raspberries and cherries.

    2. Nope no book. I know my area. I'm also went to college for Ecology with a Botany minor. I know the local stuff pretty good. I do have a really good key if I find something I don't know what it is.

    3. Long sleeves and heavy jeans, good boots and a hat. Mostly all that is to keep the sun off and to avoid the thorns. We don't have a lot of worries about snakes up here. Stinging insects yes. Aggressive wasps and yellow jackets love to get drunk on berries. The other thing to be aware of is poison ivy. Poison ivy/oak/sumac just loves to grown in among wild berry stands. Learn to ID it without leaves and learn what their berries look like so you don't collect them.

    4. Eat it. Or freeze it. Or can it. Or dry it. Depends on what it is. Things that don't keep are eaten. Like Dandelions. Berries can be made into jams or jellies or frozen for pies or cobblers. Drying berries is a PITA. I save drying for apples mostly.

    The most important rule:
    Do not harvest all of the existing plants in a given area. Leave 75% of them behind to grow more plants. If the thing you are harvesting has seeds you aren't using, toss them to the ground near where you harvest. If you are harvesting roots and some are too small, replant them. Things like cat-tail roots take a long time to grow and spread. A single meal can devastate a plant community.
    Last edited by LowKey; 09-23-2015 at 08:12 PM.
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
    ~ President Ulysses S. Grant

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Nice job guys.....can't add much to those posts.

    But DW always has me save a bit of what I have picked, and eaten......to show medical personnel if necessary...LOL
    Geezer Squad....Charter Member #1
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    First 50 years...worried about the small stuff...second 50 years....Not so much
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  5. #5

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    1. I keep gallon ziplocks in my pack. I also use a knife and I have a pair of scissors w/ a snap on sheath.I have read that cleanly cutting a plant, rather than ripping off portions, allows it to stay fresh longer. Less trauma. The same people carry a spray bottle and mist the plants. I usually forage right near camp and eat or cook right away. But, I could see that being right. But, have not added a spray bottle.

    2. I don't eat plants that I still need a book to identify. Even if I am sure I have the right plant by the book description. I go home and do my research before I consider trying the plant. If I have a vehicle near by, I have my books. I keep them in waterproof ammo cans.

    3. I use the same precautions when foraging as I do doing any other activity. Purposeful and deliberate movements. Let everything know you are coming and give them time to get out of your way. Watch where you place your feet, knees and hands. I wear leather boots and clear snake area with my boot or a stick before putting my hands in the area.

    I have personally witnessed a gaboon viper bite into a leather work boot. That is the largest fangs in the snake world. I saw the same guy let an Eastern diamond back of approximately 6' and a water moccasin, among others, bite his boot. He was a professional herpetologist and he said he just had to switch out the Eastern Diamondback after awhile. He said they would start biting higher and higher over time.

    We have a ton of poison ivy and a few other urushiol producing plants. Poisonwood and Manchineel which is said by some to be 1,000 times as bad with urushiol as poison ivy.

    One thing to remember is that you do not need to handle poison plants to get infected. The oil is spread toward your gloves, boots, clothing and then can still be spread to you. Wash with a wash clothand soap as soon after foraging as possible. Pay close attention to between the fingers forearms and elbows. That is where a lot of people miss.


    4. I work at making sure I don't get the wrong plant. It is easy enough to do by accident though. So, make sure you double check your take. I usually take only what I am going to use immediately.

  6. #6
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    Identification is very important. Check with you local Master Naturalist program (State University system or Extension Service?) about talks and walks, they may be doing programs at local parks, call state parks, parks and recreation centers from local cities. Then buy a field guide for your part of the country and take some photos of the plants, flowers especially if any, and leaf structure etc. so you can double check it online (university sites are most reliable) when you return home or have web access later. I have seen many people with decades of camping experience in a particular area misidentify plants and be darn certain about it. I am never 100% certain, but always double check, plants change appearance and usefulness over the seasons.

    Transport: In addition to plastic bags, mesh bags such as those 99 cent ones that zip closed sold for washing pantyhose are useful because the plant's roots, leaves etc can breath and are less likely to rot. Same with baskets, if it rains a bucket can fill up with water and be a pain to drain so if a basket and mesh bags fit in it you can drain it easier.

    Don't process any more than necessary until you are about ready to eat unless it requires time to dry out or something. The more leaves are handled the more they bruise. If roots are cut to close they can dry out. Don't freak out about all the tiny little bugs in berries etc wait until you are going to eat them, then rinse.

    I was a Certified Master Gardener for many years and have gone on many plant and fungus collecting trips with Master Naturalists etc. Still I learn more every time I go looking (not always collecting) and am always asking questions, trying new things very carefully.

    Look for movement and you should avoid snakes etc, using boots and long pants or gators may help. Avoiding poison ivy/oak, is more of an issue. Be sure you can identify those and which plants have spines, some thorns are so small you may not see them. These are the most difficult to remove sometimes and often have toxins on them that irritate the skin. No need to touch everything. If you cannot identify it just take a photo, work on ID later.

    I don't typically use gloves much but if you are just getting started it may be a good idea, you will make some mistakes, we all do. Only liars say they never made a mistake. Collecting some plants is MUCH faster with thick leather gloves even if they get soaking wet.

    Website I like and their recommendations:
    http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08...ing-tools.html

    List your general Region or State
    Last edited by TXyakr; 09-24-2015 at 06:01 PM. Reason: added link

  7. #7

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    Hunter, that line has become the latest lame joke in the house. Any time we open one of my canned goods, it's always, "should we leave a little in the jar with a note saying, 'this is what we ate..."
    Thanks for the laugh line.

    We had a kid in our botany class not listening when the professor showed slides of flowering and fruiting poison ivy things. First day out in the field this kid walks over to a tree literally festooned with flowering poison ivy and leans her face into it to sniff the flowers...Yeah... not a good day for her. Or week or two after either.

    I don't worry too much about bugs. When I bring home berries, they go into the sink to float for a while. The bugs come to the top where you can spoon em off. If some drown, oh well. Protein! (A neat trick for wormy broccoli is to add some salt to the water. They come out right quick.)

    I don't worry too much about rain in a collecting bucket either. If it's going to rain more than an inch an hour, the last place I want to be, is out picking berries into a bucket. Maybe in a rain forest you worry about it. Not so much here.

    Once I went to a pretentiously yuppy U-pick place for raspberries. They looked at my string bucket in horror. "You'll crush your berries if you use that!" Um, yeah. Haven't yet in 30 years. Then I found out why you don't want to crush their berries. At $8/lb they can keep them.
    Last edited by LowKey; 09-24-2015 at 08:43 PM.
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
    ~ President Ulysses S. Grant

  8. #8
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    You are welcome.....
    DW came up with that years ago...as I was always bring home my treasures, flora and fauna, stones, wood....to the mostly tolerated looks and harrumphs.

    Picked her some golden rod once for her "wild flower arrangements".....How was I supposed to know she was allergic?

    So, seeing as how she is getting older now, and is a wife (a least still is today), that is very true.....that makes that saying a "old wives tale"?
    Geezer Squad....Charter Member #1
    Evoking the 50 year old rule...
    First 50 years...worried about the small stuff...second 50 years....Not so much
    Member Wahoo Killer knives club....#27

  9. #9
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    Containers for holding what you foraged:

    Mesh wash bags (aka Lingerie bags typically about 18"H x 10"W with zipper closure)
    I prefer the ones with a loop so I can hang them on my backpack. (make a loop with some cord)

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/16616240?w...750472&veh=sem

    ^ that link did weird things added a link to 3 bags from Walmart for $4.75 but then it change to Kohls for double $, in stores small ones are about $1 each, bulk probably less on eBay.

    also:

    Plastic bath loofah sponge cut off cord that keeps them bunched up you have a long tube of mesh.
    Cut this into whatever lengths you need tie off ends with small cord also hang from backpack or put into basket or bucket.

    I use both of these for wet items like gloves, thin SilNylon tarps etc to allow them to dry out while I am hiking or paddling. Or non edible foraged items like tinder. Foraged small game, or animal hides not yet fully processed, i.e. have not had time to stretch out. Separated items in a backpack while reducing weight. Can spread the larger ones open with sticks, loop of vines, weigh down with stones and use as crayfish and minnow traps as well, tie to a branch or something obviously.

    As mentioned in the link I provide in previous comment if you use small resealable plastic hard sided containers: Tupperware or Glad containers for berries if they are all small and nesting the berries will not get crushed like they would in one big container, also better if you add holes so they breath in heat therefore don't cook/steam in the sun. Depends on where you are, 1 hour in East Texas heat and humidity bumping around on an ATV and a bucket of berries is hog slop, most humans will not eat it.

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    Last edited by TXyakr; 09-25-2015 at 09:51 AM. Reason: added link

  10. #10

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    Mesh wash bags ...That's a great idea!
    Mark the exact locations where you can find various kinds of wild food resources http://bit.ly/1hj0Pks

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