Sun greeted the keen foragers in the morning at Caravanserai, perfect weather for a tour of the garden looking at wild herbs and other treats.
The first 15 minutes were spent going around the group with each participant saying what their motivation for coming was and whether they had any previous experience. Foraging provides a fantastic platform for sharing, not only are you able to view the landscape differently and identify what is has to offer it also evokes memories and experiences which are then shared around the group.
One couple had been on a course run by a professional forager and had brought their I.d book, others had a curiosity they wanted to explore. Feeling more connected we ventured off around the garden searching out those useful herbs, 27 of which i had identified in a reccy the day before.
It is not only the inherent deep connection we share with these plants or the nutritional value of the plants which are interesting, some of the folklore which surrounds them is fascinating. For example the name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion which refers to the lion tooth shaped leaves. Sow thistles were reportedly eaten raw by gladiators before they went into battle. In Greek mythology Theseus is said to have eaten smooth sow-thistle to gain power before leaving to slay the Minotaur in its Cretan labyrinth, where it dined on human bodies, bull’s heads and young Atheneans.
As we walked around we had many stories from various time periods and important memories. Some people were busily making notes, others were happy to absorb the sights, smells and tastes.
Foraging is a great way to experience an urban space, it reconnects us back to a bygone era when we were more in tune with the natural environment and utilised it, it enables you to see the landscape in a new way because once you recognise a plant others pop out at you. It also can provide a source of superior nutrition, even when compared to home grown veg as many of the edible ‘weeds’ are packed full of nutrients.