Cut down your carbon footprint, reconnect with the land and forage safely for your food.

Foraging for food amongst your local forests, hedgerows and coastlines is an activity that delights on so many levels. Done solo, it can be hugely therapeutic, but it is also happens to be a great pastime for the whole family (provided, of course, that little ones are well supervised and know what not to pick, as well as a few other golden rules). Plus, it helps us to connect with the earth, to use the natural resources on our doorstep – which, crucially, involve absolutely no plastic – and, all the while, to drink in the vitamin D that so many of us in the UK sorely lack. It must, of course, be done responsibly and safely; you should know what you’re looking for and be able to identify what you’re picking, as well as leaving plenty for the wild animals who rely on such resources to feed themselves.

Here is our pick of online resources to help guide you on your forays into foraging.


Woodland Classroom




If you want to get to know your edible mushrooms from your no-go poisonous varieties and your average weeds from your lesser-known-but-fit-for-consumption (and delicious) leaves, why not enrol with Woodland Classroom? Run by James (head bush craft instructor and forest school leader) and Lea Kendall (counsellor, life coach and woodland instructor), you can jump onto Zoom for one their workshops, through which you can learn what you should be looking for and when (a clue: autumn is a time of rich pickings for the seasoned forager). Based in Wrexham (and with partner in two locations in Wales), the new digital classes mean that you don’t have to be based nearby to gain the benefit of their wisdom. As they say, ‘We are passionate and enthusiastic about reconnecting people with the natural world through bushcraft, outdoor education, forest school and nature-based mindfulness. The teachings of the Woodland Classroom rekindle something that’s already within all of us but has been forgotten. We believe that nature is the best healer and also the wisest teacher.’

The Woodland Trust


Oh how we love the Woodland Trust and all its wondrous work. And just to add to the list of reasons to adore this organisation is the fact that it has some brilliantly rich resources for the foraging neophyte and pro alike. First things first, its indispensable guide is imperative reading before you get started (do note its golden rules, chief amongst which is only ever to take as much as you need and always to leave rare species alone). Then there is its excellent foraging recipe page, as well as its all-important monthly blog focused on what to forage for now (for August, think blackberries, crab apples, elderberries, greater plantain, hazelnuts and rowan berries – and do note the delicious-sounding rowan berry schnapps recipe).

Follow @foragingandfeasting




@Foragingandfeasting is an Insta account run by Dina Falconi, a US-based clinical herbalist and author, with a strong emphasis on food activism. Her little squares are wonderfully instructive, packed as they are with videos, botanical illustrations and information not only on what to look for as you forage, but also on how these ingredients can boost your health and your mood. If you’d like to learn more about Dina, you can also head over to her website, Wild Earth. For anyone keen to explore nature’s healing treasures that are right on at doorsteps, this is a fantastic place to begin.

Check Out BBC Good Food’s Beginner’s Guide




Seasoned foragers will be familiar with the content of BBC Good Food’s handy guide, but for everyone else, it’s a brilliant starting point. Written by Stuart Ovenden, it outlines all the golden rules, all the while emphasising the sheer joy of gathering your food from your local surroundings. It gives a brief history – highlighting that even for our recent ancestors in World War Two, foraging was a necessity, not a lifestyle choice – as well as outlining the five easiest things to forage for newbies.

Countryfile’s calendar




There are, as you might imagine, a number of foraging calendars available online. We like the ever-reliable Countryfile’s, which offers an authoritative guide as to what to look for and harvest each month. There is an overview offered in the main calendar, but if you click on each month, the website will take your through to a more comprehensive guide. Right now? Why, blackberries, of course, but hawthorns, rosehips and elderberries are just around the corner too.

Listen To These Podcasts



Photo: Roy Hunt

Paul Kirtley’s podcast is all about wilderness, bush craft and outdoor life. In this episode, he talks to Miles Irving, one of the foremost professional foragers in the country who has written books on the subject, as well as supplying to high profile chefs and restaurants, such as Jamie Oliver, Mark Hix, The Ivy and Heston Blumenthal.

Another lovely listen is Eat Weeds. Episodes include those on how foraging helped during lockdown, how to eat forgotten foods such as acorns, and how to perform ritualistic wild tea ceremonies. It’s informative and calming stuff.

And finally, if you’re interested in foraging, don’t neglect to listen to writer Andy Hamilton as he leads a wild journey, collecting ingredients to make drinks – or ‘wild booze’ – from foraged-for ingredients, all for the BBC’s The Food Programme.





Get A Foraging Mentor




If you are desperate to get out harvesting the bounty on your doorstep – whether in hedgerows, forests or along the coast – but would really like someone to help guide you, you can sign up for foraging lessons tailored to your needs with Galloway Wild Foods, which is based in Scotland. It is run by Mark Williams, who explains, ‘Through Galloway Wild Foods I hope to share my passion for foraging and the delicious and nutritious food that you can gather for free in the wild. In addition to all the free information I share on my Wild Food Guide, I also offer guided walks and tuition on woodland, hedgerow and coastal foraging. I regularly consult on foraged ingredients with food and drinks companies and work closely with chefs, barmen, nutritionists and herbalists to explore the possibilities of our wild larder. I write regularly on foraging for national and local press and various websites.’ And if you can’t make it in person, he even offers online tuition – book your sessions here.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2020

READ MORE

9 Of The Best Vegan Blogs in 2020
7 Ways To Perfect A Refreshing Summer Cordial
Rowen & Wren

Nancy Alsop

Editor

Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.

FIND OUT MORE