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Foraging for wild food

People foraging for wild plants in the rain
A foraging workshop at the Top of the Gorge Festival in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset | © National Trust Images / Paul Harris

Foraging can help us to connect with and appreciate nature and reminds us that we need to take care of it. That’s why we support sustainable foraging for plentiful species of wild food, for personal use, in many of the places we care for.

Foraging sustainably

We want to make sure you can forage sustainably and enjoy our sites as you wish, but also that the land we care for can continue to support healthy ecosystems. We welcome sustainable picking on most of our land, but we discourage excessive foraging.

Foraging code of conduct

To ensure that you are foraging sustainably, we ask that you follow this code of conduct:

  • Please only pick for personal use and only pick as much as you will use. Always leave plenty for others to enjoy.
  • Please identify species carefully and always be 100% certain of what you are picking, avoiding poisonous species. Please check a specimen before picking, not afterwards. Only take a sample of a specimen if you can’t identify it in the field. Please forage only common and abundant foods.
  • Please avoid picking protected species and do not forage anything without consent on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). This is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. Please be aware of and never take rare, vulnerable or threatened species – only pick common and abundant species.
  • Please don’t uproot or damage structures below ground without permission. This is illegal without consent under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and Theft Act 1968.
  • Always be respectful and compliant in the countryside. Always stick to the Countryside Code: respect, protect and enjoy. Please keep to public rights of way or open access land unless you have the landowner’s permission to go elsewhere.

If you're ever in doubt about whether you should forage, please only take photos rather than specimen and leave some for others to enjoy.

Low view of daffodils and scillas colouring the ground that surrounds trees at Waddesdon, Oxfordshire

Caring for nature

Learn about our work on nature, climate and sustainability, and find out what you can do to make a difference.

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Gift membership 

Find out how to give the gift of adventure with a range of membership options. Plus, pay for a joint, family or individual membership by annual Direct Debit and get a free £15 gift card.