Website crops up to promote foraging

FRUITS and nuts hanging on trees or lying on public lands are ripe for anyone to pick, according to an urban forager website that encourages such acts.

More than 40 areas in Launceston are mapped out on the site Foraging Commons.

For example, chestnut trees near Royal Park, plums on council grass in South Launceston, or kumquats and apples near High Street in East Launceston are listed, along with other forager locations in Australia and New Zealand.

The concept seeks to encourage people to share available or extra produce to create an alternative food system, that at the same time nurtures new relationships in neighbourhoods.

A Launceston City Council initiative, that built two raised garden beds in Brisbane Court planted with vegetable and herb offerings that are freely available to the public, falls into this realm.

The group Urban Farming Tasmania is also a proponent of the idea.

Concept founder Juliette Anich said the project started almost five years ago when she moved to New South Wales and found avocados and mangoes growing on the street in abundance.

``These things that had high monetary value in Melbourne were just going to waste in Newcastle ... so I started mapping out the area to see what other produce was available,'' she said.

``I was overwhelmed by the people who were also mapping and who got in contact with me when they heard about the project. We found about 20 groups across Australia and New Zealand and created Foraging Commons.''

Ms Anich said the website shared the locations of public food grown on public land, and prompted people to act honestly and thoughtfully, taking only what they could consume.

She said if a fruit tree on private land was overhanging into a public space she would often knock on the landowner's door, introduce herself and ask for permission.

``There is a flip side of this project that draws on the question how people interact with a public asset and where does responsibility lie, how we share this. It also brings people who may or may not have anything in common together.''

It is this latter aspect that encouraged a second project for Ms Anich - Reclaim the Curb.

``We are looking for people to come together with their neighbours or the community to locate an unused space and encourage them to reclaim a forgotten piece of land,'' she said.

``They must then put together an application that tells us their dream for the space and what they would like to see done with it, and most importantly a maintenance plan.''

Kirstie Lewis, of Newnham, with her children, Sarah and Daniel, at the Brisbane Court vegie garden. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

Kirstie Lewis, of Newnham, with her children, Sarah and Daniel, at the Brisbane Court vegie garden. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

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