Wednesday 8 February 2012

a city in an orchard or an orchard in a city

Thomas Fuller wrote these words in 1662 describing the many apple trees in Norwich

Another saying is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is clearly wrong.

There is an abundance of free food if you know where to look.

My first foraging experience was when I was 17 and I picked mushrooms in my local woods in Peterborough. I prefer not to remember the time my brother and I picked blackberries by a lake in an inflatable dinghy. You are probably ahead of me in realizing this expedition did not end well.

There was then a long gap until I joined transition and it started to occur to me that eating wild food growing locally is a most environmentally friendly option. I also love things that are free which is why I have added on my map a number of people's houses where I can get free food.

On my way to work last year I grabbed an apple from a tree which turned out to be incredibly sour and I had to find somewhere to spit it out whilst walking through town. I went back a month ago and they were much more edible and had not been taken. That is one thing I have noticed since my childhood days is that people don't pick free food. Even easy stuff like blackberries.

I have also discovered a walnut tree , several crab apple trees, a sweet chestnut tree and sloe berries all in Norwich city centre. My best friends house has a cob tree and several herb plants which I help myself to when I am there. He also makes a great pasta bake. My Dads house has a pear tree and an apple tree and you can almost be certain of a trifle in the fridge. My girlfriend has an allotment and her children are always making muffins and icecream. In some countries people always have stew on the go just in case someone comes to the door. I wonder how the people that want me to change my energy supply or my religion would react if I offered them lentil stew?

Abundance Project begins its mapping neighbourhood trees with the Norwich FarmShare Food Hub
. See here for details.


  1. My bike rides in autumn are frequently interrupted by stopping to sample the blackberries growing next to quiet lanes. Several children who live within sight of some fine blackberries once asked me what I was doing and when I replied 'eating the blackberries' they said 'uggg that's disgusting'! Tip - only pick the blackberries that are above dog height.

  2. Children think it is dirty to pick blackberries, I have noticed this. But I can't help think 'great, more for me!'
    I took my dog blackberry picking and she was eating them herself!