Yogurt made better


What Does “Forager” Mean?

oh…and Foraging!

Newcomers to Forager Project have asked what is in the name Forager, and why Project? The simple answer is that our founder Stephen Williamson is a very curious man. Curious about all things food and dabbles in art here or there.

Stephen will delight in telling you that he loves to wander and seek, exploring new ideas and how they become of everyday life. Just like good yogurt that is made with plants, or how the best way to experience an art exhibit is not by reading about it on your phone, but actually seeing it in real life.

So Forager is the essence of that. Wandering and seeking out exceptional organic food, made with plants, that are delicious.

Project is more simple. Because life and business are a project. They take time, planning, learning from your mistakes and ultimately, following a path to doing something good for people and the planet.

Forager Project then, is just that. However, not everyone (including me) really knows what Foraging is by definition.

Foraging, at its most basic level, is the act of finding and harvesting wild foods. Some people may simply call it “gathering.”

Foraging can involve hiking in the mountains to search for elusive morels, heading out to the local (pesticide-free!) park to pick dandelion greens, or even picking apples from the branches of your neighbor’s tree that hang over into your yard.

Foraging most commonly refers to going mushroom hunting, something only people practiced in the fine and delicate art of mushroom identification should engage in.

Yet there are many edible plants that grow “wild” all around us—the trick, as with mushrooms, is knowing when and where to look:

Wild Mushrooms

Not everything is edible! Take a visual guide with you.

  • Asparagus (wild) looks like a thinner, grassier version of the domesticated version you’ll find at markets and grows in the spring and early summer.
  • Berries of all kinds grow wild in the summer, notably blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Lesser-known berries such as huckleberries and salmonberries are local delicacies that are only available by foraging (or knowing someone who does!).
  • Dandelion greens should be picked well before the plant flowers; wild dandelion greens are smaller than ones grown for sale, just be careful to only pick them in areas you know haven’t been treated with pesticides. The younger greens of spring are the best.
  • Dill has delicate fronds and should be used quickly after being picked.
  • Edible flowers such as nasturtiums add color and flavor to salads; as with other wild plants, make sure to gather them only from areas you know to be pesticide-free.
  • Edible weeds include dandelion greens and purslane.
  • Fennel grows wild in temperate areas and you can harvest both the leafy fronds and the anise-flavored bulb underground.
  • Fiddlehead ferns are the curled fronds of the ostrich fern that are foraged in the early spring.
  • Nettles grow in damp, shaded areas in the spring—be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves when you harvest these stingers.
  • Nuts of all sorts can be gleaned in the fall if you know where to find them.
  • Plums come in many varieties; plums on a single tree tend to ripen almost all at once, so if you find a wild plum tree with ripe fruit in the late summer or early fall, you’re likely to find a lot of it.
  • Purslane, like dandelion greens, is often considered a weed but is a spring-time delight that makes a delicious salad.
  • Ramps are wild leeks with a delicate onion flavor that grow, like so many other greens, in the spring.

Basket Full of Fruits and Vegetables

You can’t beat a good basket. Get one… and a pair of Wellington Boots!

Of course, foraging all depends on location. In Minnesota, one can forage for wild rice. In Florida, mangoes are forageable. In New Mexico, pine nuts grow wild. Different nuts, in fact, grow wild in different places.

Foraging has also come to mean the gathering of free, but not wild, food from less traditional spots. Parks, abundant fruit trees (with the owners’ permission, of course), and public land may not be as picturesque as the forests and meadows we may imagine with the foods above, but they can be just as abundant with fresh foods.