I changed topics last minute because we are far enough into this to know we are trying to be more frugal and know we need to cut back but how about some ideas you may never thought about?
Do any of you forage for fruits, nuts and mushrooms? Free food abounds! Seriously you can feed the state of Georgia alone with Kudzu – we got enough of it!!
Last year I was able to harvest lots of chanterelles due to the rain which saved on my mushroom budget at the store in addition to the shiitakes that I grow.
Just on my property alone I have harvested:
muscadines – massive amount
wild garlic & onion
red sumac berries
Kudzu leaves and flowers
This year I am going to tackle the acorns and hickory nuts.
If you are saying, “yeah but I live in an apartment or a subdivision!”, you can find some local areas to forage. Old homesteads that are for sale in the area(ask the realtor if you can look around the property or find the owner). Many owners, especially the older generation, would love for you to come pick fruit off the trees rather than let them go to waste and rot on the ground, what the animals don’t eat at least. Offer a small gift of a jar of jelly or a baked goodie as a thank you although they may not take it, what it might do is allow you to come back again. 😉
State Parks don’t officially allow you to harvest anything but sometimes if you ask the ranger what fruit trees and bushes are in the park, they will let you pick a small basket.
Ask friends! There are some folks that need help with their farm and would be happy to share extras with you in exchange for a bit of work OR host a Pruning Work Day – all those that helped to come back and pick when the trees are busting with fruit.
Ask at the farmers markets – go to your favorite farmer and ask one if he needs a few hours help or if he allows gleaning at the end of the season. To glean is to go back through the crops after the farmer has picked all that he cares to. Farmer Brown gets tired out squash coming out his ears at some point and stops looks for those beauties.
Important – always ask permission if it is private land even if it has a house that is empty, the owners may enjoy going back to pick themselves and don’t like to find that people have already been there without asking.
Visit Greene Dean’s site – Eat The Weeds, it is incredible resource with edible plant profiles and recipes. Yay!
For those that may not have the opportunity to go forage –
Go to your local fruit stands and ask if they have any bruised or damaged produce that you can feed your goats, chickens, cows etc… Save money on animal feed but you will find some of the produce is JUST FINE for you too!
Visit some of the smaller grocery stores, while in Georgia they can not give you free produce they can mark it down substantially. Quality Foods is one and I have found good discounted fruit and veggies but you need to look carefully at what they are offering. Don’t be afraid to ask if they would discount it more if you took the whole lot!
Before you set out to gather, be mindful of these few points:
- Learn your plants. Prior to harvesting, it’s vital that you learn the difference between healthy and harmful plants and herbs.
- Location, location, location. You never want to eat things that are harvested along roadsides, waste lands, near polluted streams, or close to conventional farmlands. This is another reason why I love foraging on old homesteads – they are usually far off the beaten path.
- Know when to go. A general knowledge of when seasonal foods are ready to harvest is good to have. But if you’re new to the whole thing…go outdoors often. Start to observe and journal your findings. Soon you’ll learn what, when, and where to gather.
- Take only enough. Glean only what you know your family will use and leave those plants that are endangered.
- Get permission. We have only ever foraged on public lands. So if you are looking elsewhere…be sure you have permission before you harvest from someone’s personal property.
Reading up on the topic will surely help to build your confidence. The more you know…the more you save! Here are some great books:
-Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
-The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
A Field Guide to Edible Plants (Peterson Field Guides)
Begin now – and through the start of fall – looking for old homesteads, abandoned home sites, and safe urban areas in which to harvest.
By harvesting the wild produce in our local areas, we will surely add variety to our diets while freeing up money in our budgets. Not only will it help our budgets, if you sell jams and jelly – you will MAKE money! 🙂
Now it’s your turn –
I will give you the weekend to do this goal. What can you forage for over the next few days and what will you do with it? How did it help your budget?
Comment here for me and head on over to the facebook group – 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge and let me know what your goal is!
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