Country Lore: August/September 2018

Readers’ tips on foraging neighborhood fruit, building tomato trellises, and making your own chestnut flour!

| August/September 2018

  • cheesecake
    Susan prefers serving her chestnut flour cake topped with cream cheese frosting.
    Photo by Susan Tipton-Fox
  • preserves
    Try preserving foraged fruit in jams and jellies.
    Photo by Christopher Marshall
  • trellis
    These trellises are made with scavenged materials such as wood and twine.
    Photo by Kirk Miller

  • cheesecake
  • preserves
  • trellis

Urban Foraging Provides Free Fruit

Finding a big, old fruit or nut tree in a city can indicate that you’re standing in a heritage neighborhood. Ask a resident, and you’ll often hear them say they don’t know what kind of tree it is, consider it a nuisance, and haven’t even tasted the fruit!

Last year, I decided to offset my food costs with foraged food. The season started with the Seed Swap held at the main branch of the County Library in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I asked if the group was planning to make an effort to harvest neglected tree fruit. About five people showed interest in the idea.

Connecting with Like Minds

Our small urban foraging group began discussing how to proceed. We decided to approach the local senior center, and asked if it would like to host a cider-making fundraiser. The senior center director agreed. We also needed a place to store apples before cider making, and the Klamath Food Bank agreed to share its cold storage with us. We lacked a cider press and grinder, and our local tool library didn’t have any. Then questions came up about liability insurance.

To move forward with our foraged-cider plan, we met with a representative from the Oregon Food Bank headquarters in Portland, who explained how produce is gleaned from the Willamette Valley and donated to a network of food banks around the state. We also asked for guidance from a more experienced group, the Portland Fruit Tree Project. The group shared its volunteer waiver forms, along with information, to help our foraging group learn about gathering produce safely under legal protections.

A Walker in the City

By springtime, undaunted and still inspired, I began taking walks in old neighborhoods to spot baby tree fruit. It helped that the Klamath County Museum held several plant identification walks in the parks. I went on those walks and attended a class on fruit trees taught by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

I learned that in this area we have a moderately good climate for stone fruit, such as cherries, peaches, apricots, and the native Klamath plum, plus rosaceous family fruit, such as apples of many types, pears, quince, and rosehips. Ornamental trees have fruit that sometimes looks like edible fruit. To find edible trees, my strategy was to return weekly to observe the ripening. Like foraging birds and deer, I had an urban food route.


Fermentation Frenzy!

September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pa

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


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