Lately I’ve had foraging on the brain, and specifically I’ve been wondering about urban foraging in a place like DC. Traditionally, of course, foraging connotes going out into the wild to find naturally occurring foodstuffs. But I suppose there’s no reason people shouldn’t help the process along. The Washington Post’s All We Can Eat blog has a post about an herb garden at U Street and New Hampshire that invites neighbors to “forage” from it:
Urban foragers, this one’s for you. On the sidewalk between Subway and Starbucks, on New Hampshire Avenue NW, right near the intersection with U Street, is a wire-bound raised bed of herbs. The gates are unlocked, and you can reach in and pick. It’s okay. Go ahead. You really can.
This rectangular piece of bounty has been brought to you by Local 16, a U Street restaurant. Aman Ayoubi, one of the owners, says the restaurant has been growing organic, biodynamic, heirloom produce at Whipple Farms in Culpeper, Va., and a year ago decided to create this little plot of organic herbs outside its back door. “We thought we’d share with the neighbors and see if they want to use the herbs for their own cooking,” he said.
Okay, so maybe this is more “sharing” than “foraging.” But it’s a great idea. Herbs are something that, for the most part, you can harvest the amount you need for a meal while still leaving plenty for other people (and for the plant to keep thriving). They also require minimal tending, so nobody has to put in a huge amount of effort to be able to provide free herbs to the neighborhood. There should be more of these public herb gardens! I smell a trend in the making.