I am leading a Spring Wild Food Walk for Transition Chesterfield. Always on the look out for an interesting venue, my co-leader suggested a new patch, so we went to check it out.
Proving that you don’t have to be ‘in the wild’ to eat wild we started off on the site of a demolished house. Plenty of Nettles, Dandelions, Docks, Bramble and Coltsfoot.
The idea of the walk is to show people that there are wild foods all around them, you just have to be shown (and be able to identify it correctly afterwards)
Along the road under the railway bridges – loads of Chickweed in the road edge, loads of Hawthorn hanging over.
Cross the road and along by the river, plenty of Wild Garlic, Cow Parsley and Garlic Mustard, some Plantain here and there, Hogweed coming through, a patch of Comfrey beginning to show; some Goose Grass or Cleavers – supposedly edible, but never recommended by anyone that I know of!
There are 3 main plants which I would look to show people during a Spring Wild Food Walk, flavours which are strong, plants that are plentiful, easily recognisable and that are easy to use. We had already happened upon Wild Garlic – pick handfuls of leaves or flowers, chop and use whenever you would use garlic bulbs. Garlic Mustard, use in lots of dishes where you are looking for a tang – cheesy dishes or with pork or in salad.
The 3rd plant is Sorrel, or rather its two plants – let me explain…Wood Sorrel is the tiny clover leafed woodland plant and Common Sorrel (Sheep Sorrel, Arrow Sorrel or Field Sorrel) which is a member of the dock family. Although completely different species, they both taste the same due to the presence of oxalic acid – the sharp lemon-y flavour so familiar yet unexpected is a must for first timers. Wood Sorrel is only to be found deep in the woodland, its bright, almost lime green leaves, lighting up the forest floor and matching with its citrus taste. Common Sorrel (as would be expected) can be found in most grassland if you look hard enough.
So, on a mission to find the 3rd piece of the picture, we set out a little further afield, and crossed a rather busy road, onto the verge and up a track beyond heading for a scrubby piece of woodland.
We found a gap in the hedge edged with wild raspberries, and in very rough grassland located several Sheep Sorrel plants – tick the box. We carried on into the woodland, but despite an extensive search, finding Gorse and Beech Mast, more Brambles and lots more Nettles, we didn’t locate any Wood Sorrel.
But happy with the route, we agreed to go ahead. See you on May 8th?