Principles of Practice

1. Principles

1.1 The Association of Foragers sees foraging playing an increasingly important role supporting, promoting and defending the health of all plants, fungi, algae, animals (including humans) and the habitats/environments in which they exist.

1.2 The Association of Foragers recognises the ecological interconnectivity of all species and seeks to spread knowledge, understanding and best foraging practice in a move towards more diverse and resilient food systems and land use.

1.3 Members see humans as 'a part of nature' rather than 'apart from nature', and believe that it is only through engaging with nature in practical and meaningful ways that we can truly support it.

1.4 The Association of Foragers is an inclusive members organisation, opposed to discrimination and prejudice, not least because it divides rather than unites. All people, whether members of the Association or members of the general public, have a right to be treated with respect for their diversity and to participate in activities that do not discriminate against them on grounds of age, disability, neurodiversity, ethnicity, nationality, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender or gender reassignment. The Association of Foragers does not regard prejudicial language or comments about people on the grounds of age, disability, neurodiversity, ethnicity, nationality, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender or gender reassignment, as acceptable behaviour among its members.

1.5 Members of the Association of Foragers sign up to these Principles of Practice when joining the organisation. Abiding by these Principles is a condition of continued membership.

2. Towards Best Foraging Practice

2.1 The Association of Foragers share the same objective of Article 1 of the internationally ratified Convention on Biodiversity (1992):

“The conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources'.

2.2 In so doing, we work safely and within the law to develop knowledge and relationships between all interested parties to find best foraging practice through shared experience, research and collaboration.

2.3 We recognise each individual species that is foraged and each location in which foraging takes place requires its own set of skills. In this respect it is impractical and undesirable to impose a comprehensive set of rules.

2.4 We undertake to observe how species respond to harvesting methods. Where a harvesting method is beneficial or neutral to a species and/or location we will share that knowledge among interested parties and other foragers. Similarly, in the event of a particular harvesting technique proving detrimental to a species and/or location, we will alter our practice accordingly and share that knowledge among interested parties and other foragers.

2.5 As our understanding of best practice with regard to species and locations is constantly evolving, so will this document. We welcome constructive, evidence-based discussion and dialogue on general principles, specific species and distinct locations with all interested parties.

3. Safety

3.1 Members teach that it is essential to be 100% confident of identification before eating any species. If we are not sure ourselves, we are not afraid to admit it honestly and err on the side of safety.

3.2 Teachers and suppliers will take reasonable measures to understand and pass on relevant information on species edibility and allergy advice, to interested parties.

3.2 Members who pick commercially will never supply anything that they are not 100% confident is correctly identified and, is regarded within current research, as safe to consume.

3.3 Members will do their best to be well informed on current best practice and any peer reviewed science relating to our activities, and welcome research and experience-based opinion.

4. Legality and Compliance

4.1 We uphold the laws of the land that we forage in regardless of which country we are in and all members undertake to know and abide by the relevant laws of the country they are foraging in.

4.2 Members working as foraging instructors undertake to act with a reasonable duty of care to those they teach. As standard, instructors are expected to have relevant, appropriate insurance, basic first aid and food hygiene certification, perform risk-assessments, and make themselves aware of client’s allergies, medical conditions etc.

4.3 Wild food suppliers undertake to uphold the law as it applies to foods. For example, where applicable, to hold the relevant food hygiene certificates for handling or catering and to carry public liability and professional indemnity insurance and prepare risk assessments.

4.4 Foragers making products from foraged species also undertake to abide by any relevant legislation specific to their produce and to carry relevant, appropriate insurance.

5. Considerate Foraging

5.1 We teach that the interests of foragers and the species that they forage are aligned, and that foraging should always be carried out in ways that do not compromise future species populations or the biological communities of which they are a part. 

5.2 Further to ecological considerations, when foraging or teaching about foraging, we also consider other interested parties (including other foragers) that may value a species/location. Where possible we seek to open dialogue, collaborate and advance our understanding of species/locations, with a view to finding best practice.

5.3 The Association supports the creation of site-specific management plans and harvesting rotations, where appropriate.

5.4 We undertake that all species will be harvested using techniques that do not cause permanent or irrevocable damage to them, their future survival and the environments in which they exist

5.5 Members will be respectful, encouraging and supportive of other members and anyone practicing foraging.

5.6 Where members see foraging practices that they know from experience and scientific research to be harmful, they will respectfully challenge that behaviour through discussion and dialogue.

5.7 Members will treat other Members of the Association with respect. Where we share a common public space, our activities many bring us into competition with each other, and where we overlap, we will do so with consideration for one another's livelihoods.

V.1.3. Updated 18 March 2019.

© The Association Of Foragers 2019 | Follow our activities on social media via the hashtag #AOF