Gathering of wild plant species in organic farming


The gathering and use of wild plant species supports local economies all over the world. Consumers and even experts of organic farming though are hardly ever aware that wild plant species are frequent ingredients of organic products. Herbs, flowers, leaves, fruits, roots or seeds of wild gathered plant species are found in organic teas, processed fruit products, spices, milk products, tinned vegetables and others. The wild gathered raw materials are harvested in EU member states or third countries. Organic wild plant production is part of EU organic regulations and private organic standards and these products are thus controlled, certified and labelled following EU organic regulations. Organic wild plant gathering is also underrepresented in research and hardly any study explores this theme. The IFÖL puts a focus on balancing the discrepancy between pronounced importance of organic wild plant production and little reliable knowledge available.

Project Outline

Wild plant species are used for a diversity of traditional and innovative products. The marketing of certain wild fungi or wild fruits as raw or processed products are well known examples. Recently also less known wild plant species and products thereof are traded and sold by direct marketing, gastronomy and retailers. Wild plants are also attributed as superfoods, thus foodstuffs with distinct health effects.
Organic farming seems to be an important innovator for this development and many organic farmers are certified for gathering and processing wild plant species and local, regional, national and international associations and enterprises are part of value chains for processing and vending wild plant species. Although this pronounced importance of wild plant gathering in organic farming, systematic research reports are hardly existent.


  1. Explore value chains of organic wild plant products
  2. Identify supporting and hindering factors for organic wild plant gathering
  3. Explore the innovation potential of wild plant gathering for organic farming

Project Team

Projektleiter: DI Dr Christoph Schunko / Homepage / FIS / Research Gate / Twitter

Sub-Projektleiter: Ao Univ Prof Dr Christian Vogl / Homepage / FIS / Research Gate / Twitter


  • Gathering of wild plant species in organic farming in Austria (BIO-WILDSAMMLUNG)
  • Local knowledge, wild plant gathering and civil food networks in organic farming in Spain and Portugal (ALTER-IBERO-FOOD)


Schunko, C; Vogl, CR (2020): Factors determining organic consumers’ knowledge and practices with respect to wild plant foods: A countrywide study in Austria. Food Quality and Preference, 82, 103868.

Schunko, C; Vogl, CR (2018): Is the Commercialization of Wild Plants by Organic Producers in Austria Neglected or Irrelevant? Sustainability, 10(11), 3989.

Schunko, C; Lechthaler, S; Vogl, CR (2019): Conceptualising the Factors that Influence the Commercialisation of Non-Timber Forest Products: The Case of Wild Plant Gathering by Organic Herb Farmers in South Tyrol (Italy). Sustainability, 11(7), 2028.