Tag: Foraging

Spring Dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup

Spring Dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup

Five years ago I wrote a blog about my Nettle and Honey Cake – it went down a treat. Named as; ‘the best I’ve ever had’ by one enthusiastic forager, it was one of my many ideas I was actually able to follow through with […]

Making Nettle Pakoras

Making Nettle Pakoras

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) are one of my favourite spring greens, and this was a recipe I shared with Graham Pullen of St Ives Screen Printing at Tom’s Yard. Graham is keen on making art affordable and accessible, and has incorporated the recipe into one […]

Western Morning News, March 2019

Western Morning News, March 2019

Western Morning News_08-03-2019_A_015_RWM1ST

Click on the link or image above to read the full article about singing in the landscape and combining foraging with songs about the plants.

The Lessons of Making Gorse Flower Fudge

The Lessons of Making Gorse Flower Fudge

Gorse Flower Fudge Oh my god, I had such hopes with this recipe, I really thought I’d clinched it first time (which happens occasionally, though is definitely not a given). Heating it slowly, the smell of the gorse flowers was divine and the flavour of […]

Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home

Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home

I’m at artist at heart. An optimistic, awed by the natural world kind-of-one. As an artist, seaweed does it for me. I can spend hours looking in a rock pool at the beautiful colours and textures, how the water moves the weeds and the play […]

The Singing Forager

The Singing Forager

 

We’ve been having a lot of fun, Kelsey and I.

We’ve been working pretty hard too. Kelsey Michael has been teaching me songs, I’ve been creating quirky little ditties about plants I see and eat along the coast paths and hedgerows, and we’ve been walking.

Walking and hanging out in nature, as friends do, enjoying the landscape, birds, seals, the weather, sunsets and fires. And when happiness comes, or any moment that feels worthy of enjoying or celebrating, we sing. We’ve sung to the Cornish hills, we’ve sung an ode to the sour taste of sorrel, to the wonderful world of seaweeds. To gorse bushes, to the sailors and even the donkeys that we’ve walked past. As I said, we’ve had a lot of fun.

The Singing Forager (Here a little robin joined us in song, one of the wonderful things that can happen on a wild singing walk)

I was lucky enough to be brought up singing, singing round camp fires (my parents ran youth camps), from church pews and at home. I love to sing, it feels a natural and joyful thing to do and share.

Though Kelsey, a professional singer and singing leader makes singing feel natural and easy for everyone. Accessibility is practically her middle name.

It’s been great to sit, stand and walk together, in song. Kelsey has been leading Wild Singing Walks for a couple of years now. Together, we offer the Singing Forager experience; being outside in nature, singing and foraging together. You can read more about what we are offering and even come and join us here; Wild Singing Walks.

 

Foraging as a Way to Feel Connected

Foraging as a Way to Feel Connected

I’m sitting listening to Radio 4 (again) and the episode of the Digital Human called ‘Tribe’. This particular episode includes a focus on the role of hunting and gathering as a way of working together and supporting each other. Indeed, our ancestors worked closely to […]

How to Forage Shellfish Safely

How to Forage Shellfish Safely

I love foraging, I love the adventure of it, the thrill, the simplicity and the sheer satisfaction of collecting, preparing and eating my own gathered wild food. The last time I foraged for mussels I was with a friend, it was a wild, windy day […]

Taking Care of the Elders

Taking Care of the Elders

Sambucus nigra

Here I discuss my love of Elder and how we can take care of this richly providing plant.

As September arrives and passes, I love to see the decadent fruit of the Elder tree (Sambucus nigra); heavily laden fruits, dropping off her flexible branches. I considerate it a non-alcoholic equivalent to red wine, such is its depth and richness. As I imagine drinking in this liquor it feels as if I’m doming a thick, warm coat that will protect against all weathers and ills. Ah, such is the medicine of the Elder in autumn.

One wild plant in increasing trend seems to be the Elder, made famous by the cultivated and bottled, Elder flower cordial, it can become a must have by the avid forager. I have always said that foraging is a skill to be shared and enjoyed, not policed, though I do believe that with the increasing interest in foraging comes responsibilities. Shared responsibilities for the plants that we pick.

How to forage elderberries in a sustainable way

It reminds me of the company Forager, who have been supplying wild foods to chefs and restaurants for 15 years (depending when you read this), and stand by their premise that sustainable foraging is at the forefront of their business. Actually, if they weren’t sustainable in their approach, their business would have folded years ago.

Here in Cornwall the presence of the Elder is rather sparse, I often get asked where to find it, and just tell people to keep looking – it isn’t as abundant as other areas of the UK. For this reason we, foragers, need to take extra care. I have a few spots for elderberries, and never use all of them each year, nor do I take all the berries I can find. Actually, I gain a certain satisfaction from picking so little that my foraging goes un-noticed. Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

In my Environmental Policy for my business I outline only ever picking 10-30% of a plant, and only when it is abundant. Actually, when it comes to seeds and berries, I would suggest 10%, and I’m sure you can imagine why. If you pick too many Elder flowers earlier in the year, there will be little or no Elder berries, and if you pick too many Elder berries you are inhibiting the future life cycle of the Elder.

Wonderful black elderberries (sambucus nigra)

Recently, when attempting to gather a few, last Elder berries at the end of the season, I felt saddened by what I saw. Many of the bushes I have previously visited were not completely, but quite thoroughly stripped of berries. These first berries were near footpaths. As I ventured off piste, so to speak, I found more abundance – of course – on Elders that were harder for humans to reach.

We share our natural world with humans, animals, birds and minerals, it is a fine balance, a glorious balance, and one we can take some care and responsibility for. So, with that in mind, once I’d foraged my berries and plucked the majority of them off the stems for cordials and rich treats, I took the remaining berries (each containing a seed) back to the wood. I took them to areas where Elders like to grow, where Elders grow nearby and I dispersed the seeds.

Now, I’m no gardener, and maybe none of those seeds will take, though somehow I trust the ruthlessness of nature and the alchemy of the weather and the soil to make that decision. However, for those of your who are gardeners, please feel free to plant Elders, cultivate, propagate and tend them. Lets take care of the Elders.

Sustainable foraging of elderberries

A Forager’s Dog – Paddy foraging Blackberries

A Forager’s Dog – Paddy foraging Blackberries

  I have a foraging dog. He’s called Paddy McGinity (a name I inherited rather than gifted to him), and yes, he can climb rocks and cliffs as agile as a goat. Most of the time my dog is with me on forays, while I […]