New York City is pretty much the last place in America where one would choose to attempt to a hand-picked meal. Between dense architecture and honking cabs, a serene hour of gardening doesn’t really come to mind. But for urban forager and author Ava Chin, her connection to nature started right here in the middle of it all. “Our conception of New York is one of the concrete jungle,” Ava says. “We’re not really thinking about the ways nature is able to find a foothold in the city — but it does, and a lot of that is evidenced through the edible plants.”

For Ava, the fascination with eating New York’s untamed offerings started by the swingset. “I grew up in New York in a big apartment building, and I didn’t have a garden,” she says. “So for me nature was the weeds that grew up in our back courtyard or the weeds iI saw in the playgrounds. I was the kind of kid that would dig up those plants.” Now, that same kid is digging even further today. Ava’s new book, “Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal,” hit the shelves in May.

As the name suggests, this isn’t your typical guidebook. While she does offer tips and recipes, Ava’s book traces foraging alongside her other search, a longing for something to transcend life’s greatest challenges. “It is a true memoir,” Ava says. “It really goes into my personal family background and how foraging helped me as an adult to heal up from some old wounds that I had carried with me since childhood.”

Through a tough breakup and the passing of a loved one, Ava returned to her childhood love of rambling through the weeds, finding solace in backyards and city parks. Then, in 2008, she met with a group in the Upper West Side for her very first foraging walk. “My interest in foraging was piqued when I started meeting other people who were more experienced foragers,” Ava says. “Foraging was a way to help me feel more grounded. It helped me to see New York in a new light, to see that there was an abundance around us.”

One of the most exciting connections she noticed was that she could easily find some of the same plants she grew up eating growing all around the city. “The first edible weed I ever dug up was called field garlic,” Ava explains. “It looks like taller grass, but when you cut it it smells like onions. I knew it was edible because it smelled like the Chinese chives that my grandpa used to cook with. I learned that some of his ingredients were actually growing all around us.”

Her greatest find? “One of my favorite things that I’ve found was a crop of wild oyster mushrooms growing high up on a tree in Prospect Park,” she says. “A friend of mine taught me how to cook them and prepare them so it brings out the flavor and leaves out the sliminess of when they’re cooked.”

For anyone looking to try out urban foraging for themselves, Ava recommends four steps to start:

Tag Along with an Expert– “The first thing you should do is to go on a foraging walk with an expert guide,” Ava says. “It’s hard to, even with the best guidebooks, figure out what is edible and what is not. There are more and more experts around the country who are running tours.” (Yep, including Ava.)

Get a Guide (And There’s an App for That)– “Follow it up with buying some great foraging guidebooks or get an app for your phone,” she says. “I like the iPlant app.”

Go Solo ¬– “I would recommend planning to go on simple walks on your own to practice the knowledge you got from your guides,” Ava says. “I find that if you can recognize plants on your own, that’s part of the important homework to do for a foraging expert.”

Travel Around to Spot More Plants– “Honestly, I still feel like I’m learning,” Ava says. “That’s the best thing about foraging. It’s so much fun to learn about the different edible plants that are growing in different parts of the country.”

For this summer, Ava forecasts an intriguing variety of plants that should start popping around New York soon. “We’ll definitely be able to find mulberries,” she says. “They should be ripening in June. And we’ll definitely be able to find dandelions; shepherd’s purse, which is medicinal and Chinese people often use it in food; mugwort, which is more of an herb; and violet leaves and flowers, which you can use in salads or on top of cakes.”

Many are probably wondering, is all of this actually safe to eat? “I practice guerilla foraging, taking a walk down even the busiest city streets,” Ava says. “But I wouldn’t necessarily eat from those spots. I won’t necessarily eat from an area with a lot of traffic.”

She also points out that there’s no need to ascend to expert-level intensity. “Sometimes people are a little hesitant about learning how to forage or start eating wild food,” Ava says. “But I think if you can recognize a dandelion, then you’ve already gotten started. You definitely have to go out with an expert first, but you don’t need to be a botanist, you just need to know how to properly identify plants that are in season.”

And those foraged dandelions? Ava enjoys whipping them up into dandelion ricotta pie, dandelion jelly and even a sweet cordial-like dandelion wine. If foraging can earn us a cocktail, then consider us ready to dig at the park.