Meet Doug Elliott, Foragable Community’s Ethnobotanist, in this series of videos featuring a just a few of the hundreds of wild and cultivated edible plants that he and his family care for at their homestead in the Piedmont region of North Carolina near Union Mills. The Piedmont is located in the great temperate deciduous forest that covers the eastern half of North America. Temperate deciduous forests have a great diversity of plant and animal species that tend to inhabit one of three different levels that span the height of the forest. Lichen, moss, ferns, wildflowers and other small plants can be found on the forest floor, while shrubs and smaller trees like blueberry, huckleberry, mountain laurel, sassafras, spicebush, pawpaw, and painted buckeye fill the middle level, or forest understory. Hardwood trees like oak, hickory, walnut and ash make up the highest level, or canopy.
Doug and his family cultivate a large garden surrounded by a food forest in a clearing within the native temperate deciduous forest where they live. Their garden features a mix of domesticated vegetables such as leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and sweet potatoes and cultivated wild edibles such as sunchoke, milkweed, nettle, and yacon. Immediately outside of the garden is a food forest containing a diverse mix of useful native and introduced species including mulberries, spicebush, paw paw, autumn olive, Oregon hollygrape, bitter orange, black walnut, and muscadine and fox grapes.
Ethical Foraging of Wild Edibles
Don’t make the mistake of confusing foraging with plundering! Here are some simple guidelines you can follow to promote healthy populations of your favorite wild edibles: Never harvest endangered species. Always positively identify. Learn and follow species specific sustainable harvest recommendations. Harvest only 1/3 of the patch, plant, or fruits. Do no harm – don’t damage the site with your harvest. Wild garden when you can – spread seeds or transplant a new patch of the plant you are harvesting.
Source: Guidelines and Practices for Ethical Gardening Mark Angelini https://eatherenow.org/2012/02/20/guidelines-practices-ethical-foraging/