Harvesting the City with forageSF

If this past week’s rain has left you dreaming of wild mushrooms in the parks and hills of the Bay Area, then do as several Slow Food San Francisco members have done and check out forageSF. Brought to our attention both at the Volunteer Happy Hour and through emails from fellow blogger Laure Latham, forageSF will help you challenge your assumptions about city living. Known for their Underground Farmer’s Market, the organization helps San Francisco locals connect to each other and to the wild bounty of the city. Laure Latham took advantage of one of their guided forage tours with great results documented on her blog here: http://www.frogmom.com/2010/01/wild-greens-walk-with-forage-sf-at.html. Besides being led by a botanical expert, the tour also brought together an impressive list of Bay Area gourmands, including a cook from Chez Panisse. Fred Bové led the group through Golden Gate Park tasting spicy, lemony, nutty, fresh, sweet, and surprising “weeds”.  Laure Latham adds, “Fred’s walks are not just botanical excursions. He’ll tell you cultural anecdotes on plant uses through the ages, he’ll describe how California Ohlones used plants as medicines, he’ll share his philosophical thoughts and culinary tips with a zest of humor.”

So when you’re considering your spring garden, perhaps you should check in with Fred Bové first to get a better understanding of how you can work with the local environment. But Bové’s tour seems to be about more than just improving a personal understanding of the life growing all around you it is also about understanding how you, as a responsible forager and consumer, fit into that life and how to cultivate a similar bond of thoughtful exchange within your own community. To that extent, forageSF hosts community dinners, walks, and an underground farmer’s market all in support of their larger CSF program, which brings wild, local foods to its members. Created by Iso Rabins in 2008, forageSF and its CSF seeks to provide a link between forager and consumer, providing opportunities for full-time foraging. If you’re interested in learning more, check out: www.foragesf.com or head to the Underground Farmer’s Market. The Market features the wares of backyard gardens and home kitchens. The next one is set for January 28th from 5pm-11pm at 199 Capp St. The event typically features music and even demonstrations.

The evening promises to be a little more informal than the conventional farmer’s market, which requires purchasable goods to be produced in a regulated kitchen space. Serving as a stage for the experienced home cook, such a social happening recalls community events as varied as the county pie contest or bread day at the local bakery when families would come and wait their turn to use the baker’s oven. Though community dinners are part of the forageSF mission, forageSF rightfully seeks to make every step of the meal, from the foraging/planting to the finding/sharing to the eating/experiencing, a shared process of community between each other and the earth. It reminds us that these spaces do exist, that the city does offer us nourishment and companionship so long as we offer it respect and patience.

And so here on the Slow Food San Francisco blog I will seek only to echo and affirm the mission of forageSF as a mission that challenges us to slow down and examine the place we call home and the people who make it home.

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