NOTE: All landowners were previously contacted before our foraging endeavours. Consent was granted to harvest the goodies you will see in this post, and I highly recommend that any foragers attempting to forage in this manner seek out this permission as well. For those that don't (which we cannot endorse), try a backpack instead of a basket as it is less conspicuous, only target trees with piles of rotten fruit below them indicating a general lack of interest in this food source, never cross onto private property and target limbs growing over into alleys, and ride a bike or board as your get-away will be fast and adaptable to any urban terrain.
Monkeyman forager and his Papaya
We at Countryman understand that for many readers, the thought of yourselves going out into the wild to gather edible foods can be a stretch. Often times these locations seem far away and nearly unattainable. BUT WAIT, and listen to this limited one time offer. You, yes YOU, can forage too, in the comfort of your own private concrete jungle! Today's post is all about the abundance growing, and sadly often rotting, in nearly ever ally in the city. Our adventure begins in an average neighborhood 10 minutes from the heart of the downtown Los Angeles metropolitan area...
"There's a papaya about to fall off the tree at the end of the block," I said over the phone to my buddy Nicholas. "I am free tomorrow, can it wait?" he replied, sensing the urgency in my voice. "Yeah," I paused, "it can wait till then, but a day or two longer and we'll lose that gem." We hatched a plan for an urban foraging expedition the following afternoon after school.
By the time Nicholas arrived on his board I had mapped out the "catchment area" (to use archaeological terms pertaining to the local region accessible to a given group of foragers). We took off down the alleys on our boards and began our "work" with a lot of laughs. The first stop was a loquat tree laden with fruit. I piped up with a grin, "According to the all knowing Wikkepedia, so you know it must be true, the loquat was considered the fruit of wisdom in ancient China...so we'd better pick some of those!" Nicholas set to the task cutting multiple clusters off the tree with the homemade knife he'd finished the previous night.
Loquat HarvestNext we were off to a banana tree...yes you heard me correctly...a banana tree in L.A. (there are actually quite a few of them). I had been watching this bunch for far too long and half had already spoiled. It was clear that the time to act was now, and we made short work of it.
Banana HarvestFrom there it was to the oranges, kumquats, lemons, manderines, etc.
OrangesAnd finally the sugar cane...
Talk about contentment huh?
All in all it was a heck of a harvest for an hour and a half of good fun. Just wait till we show you what we did with it all.
Kings of ForagingI've said it once, and I'll say it again, there's abundance out there going overlooked every day. On our journey we also had the chance to spy passion fruit, figs and avocados that were all nearly ripe. Whether you live in northern CA and have access to blackberries, or Sweden and have access to lingonberries, there are foraging options everywhere in this world if you know where to look. Forage ethically and "follow your own inclination, but do regard the policemen around the corner." Keep the old ways alive! -Words- Kevin Smith, Photos- Nicholas Santos and Kevin Smith.