Great initiative

August 25th, 2009 at 12:14 pm by David Farrar

Newswire report on a nice wee initiative:

RESIDENTS have pooled their knowledge of public fruit trees and wild foods from Aro Valley to Island Bay and pinpointed the locations on Maps.

The map directs to 22 locations of apples, plums, edible mushrooms, wild parsley, blackberries, and more.
Lisa Johnston, 27, a member of environmental group 42 Collective, started the project earlier in the year, and her page has now attracted more than 5000 views.
“If we’re not actually spending some time looking at what we’ve already got and using what we already have, then we’re kind of being neglectful and wasteful,” she says.
It is a work in progress and the idea is that people not only use it to find free food but add pointers to trees and herbs they know about.
Jacob Butler, 22, a student, says his dad told him about the map and he has already used it to gather rosemary and kawakawa that was growing around Newtown.
“I think it’s great, absolutely great, and the more people who get involved, it’s just going to get bigger and the web will grow. There will be more fruit sources and things like that.”
Jacob says there is enough food that students will not pillage the spots but says his one fear is that people might go too far and add pointers to plants like cabbage trees and Nikau palms.
“The problem with harvesting these is that you have to kill the plant.”
Each marker includes a note about what time of year the food is ripe and, if it’s on private land, whether the owner must be asked first before gathering.
Urban hunters and gatherers can type “Edible – A Gatherer’s Guide” into maps.google.com to find free food and share their own spots.

Jacob Butler collecting rosemary growing in NewtownJacob Butler collecting rosemary growing in Newtown

The map points to 22 locations of apples, plums, edible mushrooms, wild parsley, blackberries, and more.

Lisa Johnston, 27, a member of environmental group 42 Collective, started the project earlier in the year, and her page has now attracted more than 5000 views. …

Each marker includes a note about what time of year the food is ripe and, if it’s on private land, whether the owner must be asked first before gathering.

Urban hunters and gatherers can type “Edible Wellington – A Gatherer’s Guide” into maps.google.com to find free food and share their own spots.

I’ ve tried it out, and it works well. There is so much great info one can add to Google Maps.

Hat Tip: Roar Prawn

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19 Responses to “Great initiative”

  1. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    That is a fucking brilliant idea. I love it.

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  2. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    I think this is a terrible thing. It means that there will be more people pillaging free food resources that I already use :)

    Seriously though – there is so much wild food around that it is not funny. There are edible plants that make great salads, wild fennel runs amok throughout the region and you will get sick to death of blackberries there are so many available in the season.

    However, having to go out and pick things oneself will mean that the people using it will be trendy foodies who are doing to to “be green’ (or in my case “cheap”) and not the lazy classes who wouldn’t pick free fruit if it available to them when there is a WINZ office and emergency voucher for food nearby.

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  3. RRM (9,665 comments) says:

    Novel idea. But how many people will have the time and mobility to get around all of these places? This will only appeal to the kind of people who already cycle miles out of their way in order to get organic fairtrade tea leaves etc. Arts students, in other words. No wonder this is centred around Aro Valley & Berhampore.

    Oh and pleased to see my strawberry patch has not yet been added to the map. We don’t like rustlers around here.

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  4. TimG_Oz (924 comments) says:

    I always thought the EPA recommended you didn’t eat fruit from urban trees because of the increased pollutants in the air/water?? Maybe that’s just bigger cities like Melbourne….

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  5. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    Perhaps some university can do some testing on the food available from these spots.

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  6. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    We are talking about Wellington here, not some pollution ridden place like LA or downtown Detroit. Our pollution tends to blow down to the South Island.

    Of course – just wash green plants and fennel really well.

    Wild fennel – you can eat the bulbs, the leaves are a herb, the flowers are tasty and the stalks are good to cook fish and pork on in the oven.

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  7. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Despite my idiocy, I’ve been working on this project around my village for years. Rather than merely foraging and mapping the locations, I’m planting, undercover of darkness or other distractions, to boost the number of foragable foods. You could do the same. Hazels are a good start. They are tough and grow anywhere. Roadside apple trees can be improved by grafting a local heritage variety on – it’s easy. Cardoons are decorative, edible and robust. Jerusalem artichokes spread satisfyingly. Rhubarb is a great ‘wild plant’. So are asparagus. There is a lot more that can be done to expand on this idea. Just do it.

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  8. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    Perhaps some university can do some testing on the food available from these spots.

    And perhaps cross reference it with abuse statistics to make the Families Commission more relevent.

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  9. Nigel Kearney (918 comments) says:

    Of course, these are not free. The cost is the time and effort you have to put into finding and collecting them. Making the information available to the public significantly reduces that cost. I suspect these people know nothing about the relationship between supply, demand and price so are about to learn a sharp lesson.

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  10. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    I suspect these people know nothing about the relationship between supply, demand and price so are about to learn a sharp lesson.

    Never seen a group of strangers work cooperatively before?

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  11. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    Nigel – when you don’t pay it is free. Especially if you are usually sitting at home doing sweet fuck all. There is one more thing that this does – it lets you eat really tasty fresh produce.

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  12. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Never seen a group of strangers work cooperatively before?

    I took Nigel’s comment to mean that the people putting this info up are about to find out that their spots aren’t going to have anything left for them, now that a lot of individuals know where to go to get free stuff, possibly even to just throw into a giant bag in their freezer. In any case, cooperation would require communication at the least, and such an avenue doesn’t seem to exist here…

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  13. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    We always have fun in mushroom season. Get the kids to slice up a few turnips and put the slices on the side of a hill next to the state highway. Hours of fun watching the townies hitting the brakes, getting through the electric fence (about 4000 volts) and climbing a nice steep hill only to see they have been had. And you don’t even have to be a lip reader to understand what they are saying.

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  14. Will de Cleene (485 comments) says:

    How to address the tragedy of the commons whilst ensuring excellent sustainable public resources. Heh. Funnily enough, I’m working on that right now…

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  15. Komata (1,142 comments) says:

    FWIW, An excellent idea, and all power to those who are doing these things.

    BUT, Foragers, you realise I hope that that by putting this information out there on Google Maps as is now being done, that now all the Asians will know where everything is and proceed to got through them like a dose of salts?

    Seriously – have you seen them (especially the Chinese) around Edible Chestnut trees ? Army Ants have absolutely nothing on these people – and they NEVER leave anything behind (and get extremely ‘anti’ if you try to pick-up nuts while they are working-over the site).

    As well, trees aren’t the only places around which this sort of thing happens. Beaches are fair game as well, and (again) the Chinese in particular do the same thing on the North Shore Beaches, where nothing ‘fishy’ or edible is safe – and nothing is left behind – everything is picked clean – (vacuum-cleaned would be a better description I believe).

    When tackled about it, they suffer a sudden loss of English – ‘non comprende’ etc.

    Not racist, just an observation based on personal experience, and something to be aware of.

    As I said, FWIW.

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  16. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    Komata – I have to agree. I saw two guys on the Days Bay wharf a few years back with a bucket of fish so small – they were using a bait catcher – like a whitebait net type thing – and taking everything. They argued with me in English and when the fisheries guy showed up (someone else had called the volunteer officer) they suddenly lost the use of the English language. I kicked the bucket into the sea. I have also seen Asians down on the rocks in Eastbourne using piano wire to scrape every last tiny mollusc off the rocks. They make soup and fish stock out of them.

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  17. bustedblonde (138 comments) says:

    heres the other side of asian fish gathering – they dont waste a bloddy thing. We on the other hand only take the best bits chucking away heads and livers and roe etc – which are all delicacies. A nice balance would be good

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  18. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    it looks really neat, I’ll go have a look this weekend.
    Thanks.

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  19. RRM (9,665 comments) says:

    I’m not a racist, but those bloody asians just get into everything that’s going don’t they? They’re LIKE ARMY ANTS.

    Just a (non-racist) comment…

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