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Foraging for fresh produce in the city

City parks are often full of fruit trees.
City parks are often full of fruit trees.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Living in the city doesn't mean you can't forage for food. On the contrary, there are plenty of places to find fresh food for free in a metro area. You just have to know where to look. If you don't have your own garden, there are plenty of folks willing to share theirs. If you keep your eyes open in the right season, you'd be surprised what goes to waste. Why not take advantage by foraging for food in your city next growing season?

Head to the park for fresh produce.

As a single parent with 3 kids, I was always looking for inexpensive, healthy food. Those kid-sized appetites weren't small. Unfortunately, my budget was. One day we decided to take a picnic lunch to the park. Looking up at the tree we sat under, I noticed it was loaded with ripe plums. Imagine my surprise to see that we were picnicking in a plum grove. No one was going to eat those plums but the birds. We filled our picnic basket to the brim. Next day, we came back for more. Then, we marked the date on the calendar. Since the park was just a few blocks from home, we raided it annually for free produce.

City owned fruit trees are everywhere.

After the plum adventure, my kids and I made a habit of keeping our eyes peeled for fruit trees. Since we could freeze, can or make fruit into jellies and jams, we were never lacking for fruit. Over the years, we found peach trees, pear trees, apple trees and our favorite, cherry trees. We juiced, made pies and more.

Don't forget the small stuff!

Even small roadside parks often spice up the decor with cherry trees. Some businesses do too. Usually, if you ask, they're more than willing to let you pick. After all, it saves them from having to clean up fallen fruit. Plus, why turn down free food?

Note: Be sure to wash found fruit thoroughly to remove any pesticides.

Forage for fresh produce at food banks.

Food banks aren't what they used to be. They're better. Thanks to programs like "Plant a Row for the Hungry" food banks now accept donations from local gardeners who have excess produce. So, when you go to the food bank, it's not all about big blocks of cheese, jars of peanut butter and boxed processed food any more. You can actually get fresh garden produce in season too.

Check with your local community garden.

If you don't have space to garden in the city, they can help. If you don't have a green thumb, talk to the gardeners there. Many donate to those food banks. They can help you directly too. You just have to speak up. Offer to weed, etc. when they don't have the time. You can exchange your work for produce. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, Will work for food, doesn't it?

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

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