Introduction to Foraging: A Beginner's Guide to Gathering Wild Foods With Confidence

Sycamore Garden
14 ratings

Newly revised and expanded edition published in July 2022!!

Interested in foraging, but feeling intimidated and unsure where to begin?

If you are:

  • a gardener (or a wannabe!) who's curious about common edible weeds
  • a wilderness enthusiast who wants to feel comfortable picking edible berries out on the trails
  • an urban or suburban dweller wondering if those pretty fruits rotting on the sidewalk might be edible

This ebook was written for you!

Introduction to Foraging was created to arm the absolute beginner with the confidence to step outside and start positively identifying common edible wild plants found all around us across most of North America—and indeed, much of the world!

Many of the plants covered here are actually very common “weeds” that you’ve probably looked right past your entire life.

You'll never look at hiking trail edges or cracks in the sidewalk the same way ever again!

The book is loaded full of original photography to help you confidently identify wild foods, and it's liberally peppered with suggestions for processing, preparing, and preserving your foraged finds.


Here's what folks just like you have to say about Introduction to Foraging:

"Sam’s simple and down to earth approach to foraging is great because it is through the lens of a beginner forager. His details and interpretations are that of someone who is both curious and respectful, with a willingness to dive in. I had been foraging for a while for various local fruits and plants, but I was struck with several of Sam’s comments on the history, where to locate plants and how to prepare them as tasty food. Foraging is something everyone can be doing and his book makes it safe and easy to get family and friends involved right away."

-Nicolle F.-S., Holistic Health Coach

“Sam’s Introduction to Foraging couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I was volunteering on a farm and just beginning to scratch the surface of the greatness of foraging. His book so inspired and motivated me, that as soon as I got back from my trip, I went looking in my own backyard for wild food! (And ended up finding wineberries, gold in food form!)”

-Courtney M., newbie forager

"When I started learning about the plants covered in Introduction to Foraging, I was skeptical that I would actually find any of them where I live in the heart of Philadelphia, PA. Just as I was telling a friend about this weird new hobby of mine, I spotted some chickweed and bittercress growing in a planter box next to the sidewalk! That's when I became a true believer."

-Josh K., graphic designer

Table of Contents

Preface to the Revised Edition ... 3

Part One—Inner Landscape

Why Forage for Wild Foods? ... 5

Seven Rules of Foraging ... 10

The Seasonal Flow of Food ... 24

Working With Wild Foods ... 25

Eating With the Seasons ... 38

Plant Identification & Ecological Literacy ... 42

Part Two—Plant Profiles 

Blueberries ... 47

Chickweed ... 54

Field Garlic ... 61

Garlic Mustard ... 66

Hairy Bittercress ... 72

Lambsquarters ... 77

Mulberries ... 82

Pawpaws ... 86

Purslane ... 94

Serviceberries ... 99

Sumac ... 103

Wood Sorrel ... 108

Resources for Further Reading ... 113

About the Author ... 116


Who is the author?

Hey! 👋 I'm Sam Sycamore, a writer and wild food enthusiast. I have a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Louisville (2012).

I say that up front in an effort to reassure you that I know what I'm talking about, but honestly, I think it's way more important to stress that I've been foraging, farming, gardening, and wildcrafting for over a decade now.

I practice what I preach, and I work hard to translate what I've learned from both academia and Mother Nature herself into practical information that you can apply to your local landscape—no matter where you're located.

I grew up in the Ohio River Valley of Kentuckiana; volunteered on remote homesteads in the Yukon and Alaska; farmed the forest edges in rural Indiana; tended the tanoaks and redwoods of coastal California; and I currently gather berries and nuts all across Minnesota and the Great Lakes region. I have personally worked with all of the plants covered in this book, and I've observed all of them in multiple regions where I've lived and traveled in North America.

How many plants will I learn about?

Well, that largely depends on your perspective.

The book includes 12 plant profiles, but it would be incorrect to say that it covers 12 species, per se. In some cases we are actually more concerned with the genus or the family than the species, and there could potentially be tens or hundreds of species within that genus that would fit the basic description.

Furthermore, each profile makes references to lots of other plants, both related and unrelated, that may be good to know, like potential lookalikes.

The ultimate goal of this text is to introduce you to patterns and terminology that you can apply directly to some of the common edible wild plants that are found all around you—whether you realize it or not.

Buy this

Introduction to Foraging was created to arm the absolute beginner with the confidence to step outside and start positively identifying common edible wild plants found all around us across most of North America—and indeed, much of the world!

143 MB
117 pages


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