Brisbane Times Article
Brisbane residents will be well familiar with foraging fauna scrounging around in the dark of night, but a new breed of scavengers is sweeping the city and they don't mind the glare of day.
Human scrap hunters have taken to the city's nature strips in search of things to eat, plucking fruits, nuts and plants from parks or overhanging private gardens.
The movement is so popular that a local gardening group hosts informal 'edible streets' tours of inner city suburbs, with the next foraging workshop scheduled to hit West End on July 10.
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Ben Glaneur from the Permablitz collective said the group's ultimate aim was to make the suburbs edible enough “such that should food become unaffordable, we don't even notice”.
To this end, Mr Glaneur said his group was involved in creating community food gardens and fostering an awareness of permaculture.
“Food foraging is a fun and rewarding pursuit that can provide culinary savvy gleaners with a rich bounty of delicious and nutritious food,” he said.
“The edible streets walking and cycling tours are a community-building and awareness initiative to introduce an appreciation for the edible and functional flora living in public spaces.”
Mr Glaneur said the tours were an opportunity to meet and learn from owners of “bountiful backyards” established for the purpose and to discuss harvesting and foraging ethics.
But property law expert Emily Hudson said anyone considering joining the foraging flock should be mindful of the legal risks they faced.
Ms Hudson, a lecturer at the University of Queensland, said there were some grey areas in regards to public spaces but that the laws regarding private land were very clear.
“Basically, if you're entering someone's private land you risk trespass to land,” she said.
Ms Hudson said "freegans" risked prosecution for theft if found on private property, but that the laws pertaining to public spaces were less black and white.
A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said the removal of any vegetation from plants on council land, including nature strips and parks, was against the council's local laws
“This includes the removal of fruit, seeds, logs and any other vegetative matter from plants,” she said.
“Removal of vegetation could result in a fine for breaching the local law."
However, the council spokeswoman said special permits could be issued to allow collection of fruit and seeds, such as in the case of a community garden.
Edible streets enthusiast and permaculturalist Tim Auld said community gardens were an “enjoyable”, risk-free alternative to foraging in places where the consequences may be ambiguous.
Mr Auld, who runs landscape design and gardening service All You Can Eat Gardens, said while Brisbane had a long history with community gardening, there had been a recent resurgence.
“An alternative is to use a model we call land-share,” he said.
“Someone might have a back yard but is not able to produce from it themselves, so they give the resource to others who cultivate it and use it grow food.
“When you start looking at your environment as a source of food, your whole perspective can change.”
And with food prices set to rise, chances are the number of people looking is set to bloom.
The newt Edible Streets tour begins at the corner of Boundary and Vulture streets, West End, on July 10 at 10am.