Mündraub: Berlin’s wild foragers

by | Jun 26, 2014

We found Magda and Mundraüb months before arriving in Berlin, just by searching for biochar leads in Germany. Mundraüb means something like ‘scrumping’ in German, and their mission is mapping wild foods and abandoned fruit trees, whilst encouraging us all to see the landscape anew, with a forager’s eye.

As it happened, a cancelled meeting with biochar expert Haiko Pieplow meant we could attend a special Mundraüb foraged dinner, along with Haiko’s son and Undune co-producer, Gregor, and a few other enthusiasts. The concept menu included locally foraged plants for each course. A yummy weed and melon salad was a good precursor to the highlight: nettle gnocchi. Local food-sustainability related groups were invited to present at intervals during the dinner.

Gregor spoke of Terra Preta Sanitation in his upcoming doco, Undune. Stellar Violets will introduce their terra preta sanitation technique in coming months.

Silke talked in favour of developing rooftop gardens. We heard how the Berlin media went mad on the idea when it was floated in 2006, however they say the difficulty with progressing the idea lies in property ownership. In Berlin, common access to rooftops isn’t usually allowed, as in other cities like New York.

Robert Eckstein, of Berlin Farm Lab, told us how he and his project team had lived, as much as possible, “autonomously” for one week, how that had worked, and what the experience was like. We were so keen to visit Robert at the site but alas, the Stuttgart Electric Vehicle World Festival “WAVE” came up quickly, and we whisked ourselves away before meeting him again.

Magda, it must be said, charmed us completely with her enthusiasm for foraging and mapping wild and abandoned fruiting trees. We joined her a second time, urban foraging the wild hops shoots we’d eaten in the first course of our Mündraub dinner.

As for learning how to harvest wild nettle without stinging the heck out of your hands? I obviously still need practice.

Magda showed us how to gingerly nip the nettle at the stem. Brush it back and forth against your pants before rolling the leaves into a tiny ball. Next step – throw said ball into your mouth and ignore the slight sting of any stray nettles that found their way into your fingers!

The highlight of our foraging expedition was tasting young blossom from a kind of robinia tree. The taste was like falling into in a field of flowers, all a-blooming in my mouth. Magda’s tip: they are just fabulous in crepes or pancakes.

Amidst much fun and laughter Magda warns to be careful when foraging to identify plants correctly. She also advises against picking leaves alongside paths where people like to walk their dogs!

Thanks to Madga and kudos to Mündraub. If you’re heading to Berlin, look her up – she’s soon to start wild foraging walking tours after testing her concept on some happy Canadian and Aussie human guinea pigs.