Sunday was a fabulous Spring day to be out and about in the local area, discovering its edible secrets. Many of you joined Grow St Blazey for our first ever foraging walk, which turned out to be a great success.
The enthusiastic foragers gathered in King Edward gardens, otherwise known as the tree park, with guides in hand and smiles on their faces. The walk was facilitated by Ryan but the aim was for the participants to discover edible plants for themselves and share the knowledge amongst the community.
We soon discovered that there weren’t many edible plants in King Edward gardens – we found the remnants of Beech nuts that can be eaten raw, roasted or as an oil. With a slightly different focus, looking instead at useful plants, New Zealand flax was pointed out for it’s use as garden twine and for basket weaving. Grow St Blazey have lots of ideas for how the community can improve and best use this space – make sure you get involved!
Next we headed over the railway line, towards Par so that we could search the area around the duck pond. Ryan was keen for everyone to spot patterns – where the food is growing will give you clues so that you can find it elsewhere.
It wasn’t long until we spotted wild garlic (ramsons) along the edge of water. Wild garlic leaves show up in damp, shady places between March and June. The leaves and flowers are edible and can be identified by their pungent garlic smell. They can be used in salads, soups, pesto and much more. Do be careful though, wild garlic looks similar to poisonous Lily of the valley.
We walked through the wooded areas and headed towards the duck pond. We all discussed the ‘hungry gap’ that happens this time of year because little fresh produce is available and the autumn harvest stores are beginning to dwindle. This meant that there wouldn’t be an abundance of foraging finds but that didn’t stop everyone from trying!
As everyone took their own pace, stopping at points of interest, the group naturally split into smaller groups. No longer guided, everyone was sharing ideas and strategies to identify the plants we found.
It was fantastic to see so many conversations happening and knowledge being shared. I learned about the uses of Lady’s Smock and Pennywort, just to name a few. The meadow area had lots of hidden gems: plantain, dandelions, nettles, and brambles; to come back to. Later on we also spotted some apple trees that will be worth a visit later in the year.
We also had a quick look along the canal as everybody was so keen to continue foraging. Hopefully this will be the start of more seasonal get-togethers to see what else can be discovered.
I had a few conversations with people about resources and experienced foragers to look into. As per your requests, the details are below…
Richard Mabey’s Food for Free
Hardback book full of plants and how to use them. Find it here on Amazon.
Food for Free pocket guide
I got my guide from a National Trust shop, however there are lots of different versions such as this one from Amazon.
I have been using this app on and off with some success. It’s changed a lot since I first downloaded it so it’s worth having to watch it evolve. Read about it here – it is available on android and apple devices.
A huge thank you to everyone that came to the foraging walk and made the morning so enjoyable. Please take your new found skills and share them far and wide!
(Ex-Tywardreath dweller and friend of Grow St Blazey)