Book review: The Forager's Garden by Anna Locke
by Sarah Cossom
The Forager’s Garden is a fantastic book, whether you’re new to permaculture, an experienced practitioner, or somewhere inbetween.
Anna Locke's accessible and approachable writing style makes creating your own foraging patch seem realistic, achievable, and most of all, fun!
This book takes you through everything from how to design your plot to choosing the right plants for you, and how to look after them to ensure your garden thrives for years to come.
For those new to forest gardening and foraging, it’s very much like how nature grows things - jumbled up, multi-layered and diverse. Anna describes a backyard foraging plot as “a garden-scale human foraging system made up of the food you want to eat”, whereas foraging in the wild is a bit more hit and miss, although no less fun!
With a bit of thought and effort at the beginning and tweaking as time goes on, this could become an easy and enjoyable way to grow food for anyone, whether it’s just a few pots out the back or a whole garden devoted to a foraging system.
Our gardens can be places of sanctuary, not just for us, but for a whole eco system, which is very much the ethos behind Anna’s work. It could be something as simple as leaving a nettle patch to grow in a corner as food for caterpillars etc., or not removing seed heads so the birds have something to forage come winter.
A foraging plot is not a quick fix to create, and as any gardeners know, a garden is never really finished, it just evolves. But with a plot like this you have the luxury of time to observe what works and what doesn’t, making slow and small changes that don’t cost a lot of money. Anna advises us to start with what we have and make a note of any useful or edible plants already there and then gradually add more of what you’d like to eat.
I’ve already recommended this book to one of our members wanting a concise, easy to follow guide to guilds, as there’s a great chapter explaining how to use this to your advantage in a foraging plot and elsewhere.
The final chapter - Plant Finder - covers which plants work best for each situation, season and layer, and I know I’ll return to this resource time and time again.
Anna’s existing foraging plots produce more and more food each year for less work as the eco system becomes more stable and starts to look after itself. Now that sounds like my kind of garden!
You can buy a copy of The Forager's Garden from Permaculture Market for £8.95 or your local bookstore. There's also a video of Anna online talking more about the book. To find our more about Anna's work in general, visit her website.