What is Foraging?

Foraging is a verb that means “to search widely for food or provisions.”  Popular use of the word today generally adds an additional distinction – foraging means to search for edible plants and animals inhabiting wild, uncultivated landscapes. This narrow definition of foraging stems from the common misconception that early humans survived only by hunting and gathering wild foods. Like most other animals, this line of reasoning goes, humans were a foraging species until agriculture was “invented” about six thousand years ago.

Recent anthropological and archeological research tell a different story.  It turns out that early humans evolved a variety of strategies for assuring a stable supply of food, medicine, and useful materials. Hunting and gathering wild foods were important, but early humans also carefully managed the natural environments that they inhabited to enhance production of the foods that they favored by using practices such as plant selection, transplanting, burning, weeding, tilling and mulching. As agriculture evolved across the planet – slowly and at different times – nearly all human cultures continued to depend on a mix of foraging and farming, with farmed foods eventually dominating the food supply of most cultures.

Foragable Communities employs this broad view of foraging, which can take place in a diversity of environments ranging from unmanaged and managed wildlands, restored native ecosystems and urban food forests, to commercial farms and ranches, community gardens and suburban parks, walkways, and backyards. The kinds of plants and animals that form the basis of a foragable food supply are diverse.  They can be native, naturalized, or exotic, wild, wild-cultivated or cultivated.

The food species and the amount of human care involved are not important to the concept of foragable community.  What is important is for us to engage in our regional food system in ways that promote the healthy ecosystems we all need to sustain community well-being over the long term.


What is a Foragable Community?

A collective of community members, led by local businesses, working together to enhance community resilience by increasing public participation in local foodways. Foragable Community engages a diversity of settings ranging from wildlands and restored natural lands, to commercial farms and ranches, to urban and suburban forests, gardens, parks, and yards.

Resilient communities cultivate diversity, self-reliance, and the accumulation of a balanced portfolio of community assets.


Resilience is the ability of a community to respond, to recover, and to change when necessary in order to avoid or reduce damages from distrubances, to recover quickly from damages when they occur, and to take advantage of opportunities created by change.


Biological, social, and cultural diversity supports the capacity of a community to anticipate and adjust to changing conditions, to invent creative solutions to old and new challenges; and to recognize and make use of new opportunities created by change.


Self-reliance is the ability of a community to maintain community well-being primarily through the use of  local and regional resources.   Services sourced nationally and globally are appreciated and enjoyed, but are not required for community well-being.

Balanced Portfolio

Holding a balanced portfolio of high-quality community assets – natural, human, social, financial, and physical – supports the capacity for self-reliance, innovation, response and recovery  that sustains community well-being in changing conditions.


Food businesses can highlight local foods on their menus and in their advertising, develop capacity among their staff to engage customers interested in learning more about local foodways, provide Foragable Community literature to their customers, and sell books and other materials about local foodways.  Foragable community members can collaborate with other local organizations to develop educational resources and produce public events in the local community that raise awareness and appreciation for local foodways and how food systems can promote community resilience.



Foragable community members are vocal and engaged activists for community-based action to cultivate a sustainable and resilient regional food system.  Community members invest their own resources in the collaborative development of a regional food system that is aligned with the values of Foragable Community, advocate for the development of food system policies and programs that enhance community resilience and serve as models of sustianable and resilient businesses committed to taking action to promote the well-being of the communities they serve.

Are you interested in becoming a Foragable Community Catalyst?

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