Saturday, October 9, 2010

Countryfile Forage.

On Wednesday 6th October, two of the Bosavern Community Farm team were chosen to take part in a wild food forage as part of the BBC's Countryfile programme. Hugh and Alice spent the day at Peranuthnoe with 13 other foragers, plus Caroline from Fat Hen (, James Wong the presenter, and a small film crew.
Group of foragers and film crew in the fields.
The first plant we foraged was black mustard, with its intense wassabi flavour. We followed this up with laver seaweed from rocks on the beach, with which to make laver bread. Then came sea-beet, a relation of beetroot, with its delicious spinach-like leaves; sorrel, of the dock family, with its strong lemon flavour; rock samphire, from the carrot family, with its salty turpentine taste; blackberries of course, the best known of all wild foods; and alexanders, a close relation of celery.
A basket of alexander leaves.
After foraging, we returned to Caroline's house to cook up a storm, being a supper for 15 people incorporating the plants we had picked earlier in the day. Supper was delicious, the highlight being a risotto packed full of green leaves and herbs from the hedgerows and cliffs.
Caroline in her farmhouse kitchen preparing supper.
Foraging for food is an ancient tradition that is thankfully becoming more popular, as people realise that there is fantastic food out there to be had for free, and packed full of goodness. It's very important, however, to make sure that you are 100% certain what species you are picking and eating, as some common plants are deadly poisonous. It is well worth going foraging with a professional ecologist like Caroline to teach you what is edible and what is not - I also recommend the book "Food for Free" by Richard Mabey.
Far more scenic than a supermarket aisle.
It's also important to steer clear of areas recently sprayed with pesticides, or adjacent to main roads. Try to take just what you need, leaving some behind for other foragers and for wildlife, and so as not to irreparably damage the plant. The most important thing though is to get out there and do it, as collecting food from the wild is very rewarding, enjoyable, and, of course, delicious!

The Countryfile show will air on 31st October.

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