I’m following Amanda Fuller across a patchy lot that backs up to Portland Avenue. In the background, you can see and hear semi-trucks barreling down I-64, horns honking as they try to merge.
Fuller pushes her orange beanie up away from her eyes, before stooping to the ground to pluck a squat, purple flower.
“These I bet everybody has all over their yard,” Fuller says, twisting the stem between her thumb and forefinger. “This you can eat.”
I’m skeptical: “So I can just take a bite of this?”
She responds by popping the entire violet in her mouth.
Fuller is the founder of Lots of Food — an agriculture project that transforms vacant city lots into productive gardens. She’s also an urban forager.
“Foraging is just being able to recognize the food that is all around us,” she says. “And even in the city we have a lot of things that are growing that we don’t necessarily look at or recognize as being food.”
Things like chickweed, garlic mustard, dandelion greens, and berries.
Fuller will host a series of workshops — the first one is this Sunday — where she will teach people how to identify and prepare the food found naturally in urban environments.
She stresses this isn’t about subsisting solely on the weeds you pluck off of your lawn.
“That would be a really strict interpretation of the urban foraging lifestyle,” she says, laughing.
But rather, it’s about connecting more with the food you eat and maybe using it as a supplement to foods you grow and buy. Essentially, it’s like a makeshift salad bar in your own backyard.
“I have serviceberries that I have picked and stored away from last year,” Fuller says. “They are delicious and if you know where to harvest from, you can get quarts and quarts of those, put them in the freezer and that saves quite a lot of money.”
More information about Fuller’s Urban Foraging Workshop can be found here.