What to forage in your city? Finding wild foods is becoming a popular hobby

Posted at 7:01 AM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2018-10-01 10:22:45-04

Finding wild foods during fall in your own backyard is becoming more popular.

It used to be a way of life when Ohio’s Native Americans and early settlers needed something to eat, and now interest in collecting wild plants and food seems to be growing in Ohio.

While people could forage all summer, there are some items like certain mushrooms, berries and ginseng—a popular item mostly in southern Ohio, are now in season to be picked.

But it’s not a free for all, Cleveland Heights resident Jeremy Umansky knows it takes a lot of education to become what most refer to him as the master forager.

“If you do anything enough, for long enough, and you study it intensively, it doesn't make it dangerous per say,” he said.

Umansky has been foraging here in northeast Ohio with his family for years, and he knows the rules.

Like in state parks, it's illegal to forage without a permit, but city parks may allow it for personal use, you just have to check with the municipality you are going to.

People like Umanksy, who not only forages for personal use, but for his soon to open restaurant, where he’ll be making a profit, so he would have to register with the state, and even that can be tricky.

So he forages on a farm, where he has permission.

But aside from the laws, naturalist say you still have to be careful.

One of the major reasons for the rules and regulations started back in 2015 when the picking and selling of ginseng was starting to peak, to make sure all of our resources weren't plucked away.

In addition to the laws, naturalist say people need to make sure they are carefully being responsible foragers.

“You really need to know what you're collecting, if you don't know what plant you are picking or collecting things could go really foul." said Sarah Cech, Natural resources Manager at the Shaker Lakes Nature Center.

Nevertheless, Umansky says the rules, shouldn't be a deterrent for people.

“There are so many things to look at and to touch and to smell and to look at, to see and to hear, it's just a wonderful environment to be in."