Study: Approaching Policy for Urban Foraging

A study of urban foraging in Baltimore outlines what is needed to approach public policies governing foraging.


For urban foragers in Baltimore, the high time to get out there is in May, according to a 2017 study on urban foraging by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the U.S. Forest Service. This foundational study was undertaken to inform policy regarding the use and management or urban landscapes.

According to the study, Gathering Baltimore’s Bounty, the median number of reported foraging per year was 29 outings, which mostly took place between April and October, though nearly half of respondents reported instances of foraging between November and March.

The locals surveyed collected about 140 different kinds of plants and fungi, such as hen of the woods and chanterelle mushrooms, dandelions, mulberries, garlic mustard and stinging nettles. The foraged foods become a meaningful part of the foragers’ diets, according to the study.

But is Urban Foraging Safe?

While urban policy, planning and design does not address foraging, except where prohibited by public parks and other green space regulations, concerns about exposure to soil contaminants and other environmental hazards are widespread among public land managers, according to the CLF.

The study provides a foundation for future research and can also help inform local government policies for urban landscape management, said Marla Emery, study co-author and Research Geographer at the U.S. Forest Service.

This study elevates the voices of foragers, and will be useful for Parks Departments as they consider policy approaches to foraging that support the health of both people and forests,” she said.

Review and download the study:

nrs_2017_synk_001 by Ed Praetorian on Scribd

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.