Foraging for free food is becoming more and more popular. I should say it is making a comeback as it must have been commonly done just two generations ago or so before the spread of supermarkets.
I am a great fan of it; it runs in my blood and many European natives might tell the same tale. My mum was recently sharing with me her memories of gathering a variety of wild flowers. I certainly have a love for lime blossom infusion from my native country.
Foraging is part of our coming back to nature, and a way to reconnect to that ancient knowledge. However, there are some words of caution to anyone who want to go out there and enjoy a free tea.
Firstly, I would watch where you are picking your plants. Some areas are heavily sprayed with pesticides. For that reason, I would avoid path borders. A more obvious one is to avoid picking anything below the height of the tallest dog!
Also I would never eat any plant if I wasn’t 100% sure what it is, and if it is safe to eat.
The best thing is to start with plants you already know, for example nettles. Get out there, pick a few and make yourself a lovely cup of nettle tea. From nettles, you can move on to looking at species that cannot be mistaken for anything else or whose relatives are not harmful. There are lots of tools to identify species including smartphone apps, books, and knowledgeable friends.
Above all, always remember to be sustainable. Make sure that you use what you collect and that you do not strip whole bushes. It would be very kind to leave some berries on the trees for other foragers, and most importantly for wildlife.
We often share our love for free food on our Wild Ways Well walks. If you’d like to join get in touch by email or through the Cumbernauld Living Landscape Facebook page.
Claire Bailly, Senior Project Officer firstname.lastname@example.org