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To See the City for the Weeds: exploring urban foraging in Dunedin/Ōtepoti

PhD Candidate

Abbi Virens

Supervisors

Dr Katharine Legun

Dr Sean Connelly (Geography)

Project Dates

2017 - 2020

Brief Abstract

The aim of this project is to explore the dynamics of the foraging community in Dunedin/Ōtepoti. What is being asked; how does foraging connect people to the land, plants, animals and their own community? For this study, the definition of urban foraging will be; the intentional, wild harvesting of plant material (ie. leaf, seed, root, fruit), mineral (ie. rock, sand) and/or coastal life (ie. seaweed, shellfish) for personal means. The purposes of foraging can range from food source, medicinal, spiritual and craft related. To be considered urban foraging, harvesting should occur within the greater city limits of Dunedin/Ōtepoti.

To conduct this research, local foragers will be interviewed, and when possible, at their foraging patch. Hopefully this research captures the interest of different kinds of foragers, so that various experiences can be included. Interviews will be unstructured and casual to allow participants to reveal their individual experiences with foraging. Interviews that occur at a foraging patch will allow both participant and researcher to engage with the landscape. By observing, listening and participating, the researcher hopes to reveal the various assemblages formed through the act of foraging. The results will be analysed through a post-human lens of commons and commoning to understand how public flora participate in unconventional local social and economic systems.

This research will offer a new perspective of the urban environment Dunedin/Ōtepoti, highlighting its unexpected natural resources. Foraging can show how to do-things-differently, how humans can interact with the environment in novel ways to access different forms of food, medicine and craft materials. Hopefully this research will also reveal how foraging is more-than the act of gathering, but provides an interaction with nature, land and culture.

Foraging Shot - (500)