Ethical foraging guidelines for Midwest foragers

A Guide to Foraging with Responsibility and Sustainability in Mind

Powell Gardens
March 13, 2024

Foraging, the practice of harvesting wild edibles, has been around for centuries. At Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, foraging connects us to the #MidwestSpiritOfPlace by exposing us to the practices, recipes, and history of the land we call home.  

As part of Powell Gardens’ foraging education series, check out our seasonal guides: spring, fall, and winter. (The summer guide is coming in a few months!) As you use the guides to forage in the Midwest, we encourage you to harvest responsibly, keeping sustainability and best practices in mind.  

Tips for Responsible Foraging 

1. Know Where to Forage 

Respect private property; always ask for permission before foraging on private land. If foraging on public land, learn the local regulations ahead of time. Always follow any rules or guidelines set by local authorities. Be aware of any pesticides or contamination concerns where you are foraging. (Foraging is not permitted on Powell Gardens’ property. In the interest of public health, safety, and in respect of our conservation efforts, all participants are expected to appreciate this content for educational purposes only at Powell Gardens.)  

2. Know Your Plants 

Before foraging, educate yourself about the plants in your area. Learn what is edible and how and when it should be harvested. (To grow your plant identification skills, seek out multiple sources. Use several different, reputable field guides or consult with experienced foragers to ensure proper identification.) Never ingest something you should not ingest.   

3. Harvest Ethically 

Only take what you need while foraging. Avoid overharvesting to protect the sustainability of the plant population. As a responsible forager, it is your responsibility to learn about the plants you harvest to make sure you do not disrupt their ecosystem or overharvest. 

4. Leave No Trace 

Practice leave-no-trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Make sure everything you bring outdoors with you goes home with you—do not leave any equipment or trash in natural areas! Dispose of waste properly and tread lightly in natural areas. Always respect wildlife.  


Midwest foraging is a celebration of the region’s natural abundance. By responsibly harvesting native plants, you can continue to enjoy the practice of foraging for years to come. Lace up your boots, grab a basket, and explore the bountiful offerings that land has to offer in the heart of the Midwest.