Urban Foraging in South Florida

Robin Greenfield standing barefoot next to boxes of fruits.
EnvironmentFloridaFood and DietFood FreedomForagingForget Money / Demonetize LifeIntentional LivingPermacultureResource ConservationSharing Resources / CommunitySimple LivingSustainable LivingZero Waste

What you see here is the result of two afternoons of urban foraging. Less than eight hours yielded what would have cost over $700 to purchase organic at the grocery store.
And I did it all on bicycle with a trailer!

It is truly astounding what is growing free all around us. None of these fruit trees were watered or fertilized. Producing fruit is just something they do. This is just a tiny sampling of what I saw while exploring Southeast Florida over the last week. Even harder to believe is that I caught the tail end of the mangos. If I had been down just a few weeks ago, this might have taken just a couple hours to harvest.
So, how’d I do it? I rode a bicycle with a trailer around and searched out fruit that I believed nobody else was going to eat. Searching for trees where the ground was littered with spoiling mangos was the most obvious way of doing this. If the tree was on a residence I knocked on the door and said something like, “I see all these mangos on the ground. Is anyone eating the mangos from this tree or are they going to waste?” The typical response was, “Please take them! There’s too many and they are falling on my car.” At every tree I cleaned up a little bit and left the place in better condition than I found it. Many of the trees I foraged from were on public land and abandoned lots. I put my focus into the fruits that were far out of reach that few others would bother to harvest. A 20-foot picking pole made that possible.
Down here people seem to know about the mangos. It’s hard to miss them. But I found about a dozen edible fruiting trees, most of which few people even knew were there or were edible, right in their own neighborhood. Starfruit, pond apple, tropical almond, coconut, avocado, Malay apple, longan, avocado, lychee, sapodilla and others. And that’s just some of the fruit trees. The list of edible foods growing for free around us could go on and on. All while corporations have convinced us that we need them and that only their food is safe. The reality is that their food is often the least safe and we don’t need them.
I’ll be honest that the processing of this food was hard work. The foraging was only part of the work. But I’m more than willing to work for good health, a purposeful and meaningful life and a more just food system.

Follow Robin on social media

Featured Posts