The Forager

By day Vladimir Danilov works in information technology for the City of New York. In his free time, he hunts New York City parks for edible plants. Danilov learned the art of urban foraging in the spring of 2010 on his first group tour in Central Park with "Wild Man" Steve Brill, an avid naturalist and the city’ s best-known forager, who has been collecting food from city parks since 1982. These days, Danilov is one of a growing number of New York City foragers who are taking the local food movement to another level. He gets berries, apples, mushrooms, teas and herbs from Central and Prospect Parks, and his monthly supply of drinking water from a spring on Long Island. He dreams of one day being able to “live off the land,” producing all of life’s necessities for himself. Until then, he makes do with living as naturally as possible in one the world’s most famous concrete jungles.

NYC Foraging at a Glance

  • Vladimir gathered 8 pints of Juneberries, 20 pounds of wild mushrooms and 40 pounds of apples in his first year of foraging in New York City parks.
  • It’s technically against park regulations to remove vegetation from city parks, but this goes unenforced for foragers like Danilov. Steve Brill was given permission to lead his foraging tours in 1986.
  • Foraging expert Steve Brill estimates there are hundreds of edibles to be found in New York City parks, about 150 of which will be featured in an upcoming foraging iPad application he is developing.