Gathering Abundance: An Exploration of Urban Foraging Practices in Toronto
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This paper explores different urban foraging practices within Toronto aiming to understand the motivations for foraging within an urban centre, how this is enacted, and how the context of Toronto affects this practice. As an emerging field of study, there are few articles directly about urban foraging, but a wide body of literature which informs the topic. Seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted, two with land managers, three with land managers/foragers, and twelve with foragers while walking through greenspaces in Toronto. The themes that emerged from the interviews were those of forager identity, environmental stewardship, (re)connection from nature, and private property, laws and transgression. Through foraging practices in the city people are able to interact with public greenspaces, and become participants within ecological and social communities. Eating weedy species and distinctions between native and introduced species heavily influence foraging practice. The embodied process of this work through harvesting and utilizing the plant materials creates a strong sense of connection to local seasonal cycles and food systems. Decisions to transgress bylaws are grounded in different notions of the role of nature and public spaces in the city. There is the potential for foraging practices to be part of sustainable and dynamic urban ecologies.