Ruth Campbell from Idea1, the organisation that unites individuals, creative entrepreneurs and businesses to provide an opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, talks about her recent experience taking part in a Wild Food Foraging session.
On Sunday 12th April, I visited the lovely Green Backyard (GBY) and took part in their Wild Food Forage course, in partnership with Greeniversity. Greeniversity is running a series of skill sharing courses at The Green Backyard and you can find out more at www.greeniversity.org.uk.
What a lovely environment in which to hold a workshop! The Green Backyard is welcoming; full of energy and the sun was finally out! The description of the workshop was ‘Learn how to identify wild food that is available in springtime with David Radley. Get advice on foraging within the law. Try foraged foods that you probably haven’t eaten before. Bring something towards a shared lunch and we’ll add some foraged items.’
The day started off with a brief introduction over tea and some ‘how to’ foraging books. David Radley, who is based at Nene Park Trust and runs regular foraging walks there too, took us around The Green Backyard and identified various different, wild leaves, weeds and plants that we could eat, also explaining which ones to avoid! He even encouraged us to eat his findings, including stinging nettles! I was reluctant at first, I didn’t want my tongue to swell up from a sting but David showed us how to pick and fold the nettle properly without getting stung. Surprisingly it actually tasted quite nice!
Once we had walked around The Green Backyard, where we really did discover food in every crevice of the land, we were given a basket, handmade by GBY out of willow, and were encouraged to go and pick some wild food for our lunch. Everyone scampered off to forage, this really put our new found knowledge to the test. I chose a mixture of lambs lettuce, marigolds, rapeseed flowers, fennel flowers and even dock leaves.
Once collected it was a lovely surprise to hear that we would be eating some homemade soup (handmade by one of GBY’s volunteers) made out of some of the foraged food from the previous day's workshop. Everyone brought food to share to accompany his or hers foraged finds, (lots of cake) sharing food and generating interesting conversation over lunch. I think we all felt a sense of accomplishment after foraging for our own lunch! David cooked up some of the foraged items and gave us some nettle tea to try.
After our lunch we then walked around the city, the Embankment and the Cathedral grounds to show how we can apply what we have learnt to find our own food within the city centre. I’m sure everyone that attended the class now has their eyes peeled for plants David recommended, and I know I definitely do.
It truly was a fantastic and informative day – a whole new skill learnt – one that I can share with friends. The Green Backyard and its volunteers were hugely welcoming and David jam-packed the session full of useful information. I would recommend this class to my friends and family any day. Who knew there was so much wild food you could find in your own backyard and around the city!
You can watch an interview about the foraging class here. Please don't eat anything grown wild without expert identification first.