In recent years, people have begun to cotton on to the culinary riches that surround us in parks, forests and hedgerows. There is a vogue for foraged food, driven by high-profile chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as well as concerns about food miles and spending cuts.
And it has been a particularly bountiful autumn, with bumper crops of apples, pears and plums, blackberries, sloes and hawthorn berries, and mushrooms of all types.
But if you don't own the land on which it grows, can you legally pick it? The Theft Act 1968, for England and Wales, states that:
"A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purpose."
And the Scottish Outdoor Access Code allows foraging, but again, not for commercial use.
So the intended use is key. The legality or otherwise of foraging is "incredibly complicated", says Ray Woods, of the wild plant conservation body Plantlife
Points to remember:
- Common law allows foraging for personal use
- Some councils or other bodies have bye laws against foraging - look out for notices
- Letting some fruit rot can benefit wildlife