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Gathering Baltimore’s bounty: Characterizing behaviors, motivations, and barriers of foragers in an urban ecosystem

January 01, 2017
Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Colleen M. Synk, Brent F. Kim, Charles A. Davis, James Harding, Virginia Rogers, Patrick T. Hurley, Marla R. Emery, Keeve E. Nachman

As a component of urban food systems, foraging—the collection of plant or fungal materials, such as berries and nuts, not deliberately cultivated for human use—may promote positive cultural, ecological, economic, and health outcomes. Foraging behaviors, motivations, and barriers in the urban context remain under-characterized despite emerging literature on the subject.

Researchers surveyed 105 self-identified foragers in Baltimore, Maryland about species, quantity, seasonality, and preparation of collected materials; frequency and locations of foraging activities; foraging experience; motivations for and barriers to foraging; and contributions of foraged materials to diets. Respondents collected from a diverse array of species (170 taxa) which, in some cases, constituted an important fraction of the overall diet. This study contributes to the quantitative foundation needed for future work exploring relationships among foraging, public health, and urban ecosystems. This work could inform policy regarding the use and management of urban landscapes.

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