A MAP of places to pick wild fruit in Oxford is proving a hit with shoppers tackling a surge in food prices.
The online Oxford Wild Food map has been viewed more than 34,000 times since 2010.
Anyone can click on the Google map, created by Rose Hill resident Jack Pritchard, to add a tree, bush or clump.
Apples, pears, plums, cherries, figs, mushrooms, sloes, and even bamboo shoots sprouting through the pavement in Cowley Road can be found.
The map so far boasts 116 markers, about three-quarters of which were added by visitors.
Mr Pritchard, 27, who works in logistics, said: “Sometimes I’ll meet someone who says ‘you’re the food map guy? wow!’ “I just find it really sad when I see food going to waste. Even a 50p tomato, someone went to all the effort to grow this thing, now it’s been thrown away.
“Recently I was walking down the road and saw a plum tree, and on the ground beneath were rancid plums and wasps.
“Mostly food goes to waste just because people don’t know it’s there.”
The Hunsdon Road resident mostly picks apples and other fruit to make alcoholic drinks. Recent creations include a cider from apples picked on the southern bypass and blackberry whisky which he has yet to try.
The website says: “Just because food is included on this map does not mean that picking it is sensible, safe or legal.”
Mr Pritchard added: “This is only meant as a guide, and shouldn’t be relied on as a plant identification service.
“You get people saying ‘wild food, that’s dangerous isn’t it?’, but then they will pick blackberries.”
Dot Tiwari, co-founder of Abundance Oxford, a not-for-profit community harvesting and preserving group, said: “Jack is a wonderful gentleman and we promote the wild food map at Abundance because we think it’s great.”
Pick your own
- Tomatoes – Large tomato plant growing beside Holywell Street, through the pavement outside one of the college buildings. South side of the road.
- Mushrooms on Port Meadow – Have a look when the plain is dry, lots of horses and cows mean good picking. But consult an expert to be sure what you collect isn’t poisonous.
- Sorrel – A patch of common sorrel near the start of Back Lane off Marston Ferry Road. Fresh leaves have a lemony flavour, becoming more bitter with age.
- Bamboo shoots – Pushing up through the pavement at the bottom of Kenilworth Avenue. Not tasted yet.
- Crayfish – Lots of crayfish in the Thames north of Donnington Bridge. Catching them requires nets and an Environment Agency licence.
Wild food and the law
- Picking wild food, fruit or mushrooms on private land, or “scrumping”, is illegal.
- If a plant species is protected, no one can pick, destroy or sell it, including the landowner, without committing an offence.
- Any fruit growing on public land or open country may be picked legally.
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