Free Food

2nd September 2010 7 Comments

One of the things that I want to instill into my children is a love of the outdoors and a real understanding of nature and the ability to identify plants and animals. For once, I am actually quite a good person to do this as I have had a real love of all things outdoors since I was little and have an enormous library of identification books. Compared to most people I have an encyclopedic knowledge. This is in part due to the fact that one of my university lecturers is Ray Mear’s mentor and that as an environmental archaeologist my training is really in ‘grass roots’ identification of things. I can identify most British trees, plants, insects and mammals, even from the slightest fragment of a bone. It’s a skill which I am grateful for and which has enriched my life no end.

Today I was wondering about what to do with the kids, when I suddenly remembered a blackberry hedge we had come across earlier on in the year. What better than a walk through the greenbelt that is very close to our house, a nice enough walk in itself, to get there. The sun was out, it was a tonic for me, there was a flock of pigeons with a few white doves flying about the field in formation. It was an awesome sight, and had all three of us transfixed.

The blackberries are out in force at the moment and we spent quite a while talking about all the different subspecies that were there, why they were there and what we might do with them. We discussed which ones to get and why and had fun running about and enjoying the moment. The funniest part was when Toddler Boy sat on one!

I’m keen that we only take what we need, so other people and animals can also benefit from natures bounty. We took enough so we could make some a crumble and a pie and have a tub to freeze, and left millions for others. Although we might go back at the weekend for a second harvest. On our travels, I found apples hanging over a fence and dropping onto a path- all going to waste. That seemed a shame so we might go and grab some later, we can cut off the bruised and split bits and stew them up. We also found some sweet chestnut trees, I know of an avenue of them which we go to each year, but these are nearer to our house. Can’t wait for those! Plenty of elderberries, I need to think about what to do with them and tons of other examples of free food. There’s a fantastic source of nutrition out there at the moment and this is a fab activity for pre-schoolers. Also, lets face it free things taste sweeter!

If you want to have a go but feel a little bit uncertain there is a handy pocket sized book which we try to keep to hand for moments of identification indecision. You’ll find it here

Claire Walsh

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  • Goonerette77 2nd September 2010 at 12:18 pm

    We went blackberry picking the weekend, got two tubs worth and there are still alot that have not ripened yet. One of my work colleagues is able to give me some cooking apples from her garden so can make a crumble.

  • Laura LittleStuff 2nd September 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I love this time of year! I&#39;m lucky we live in a rural area, and I think we&#39;re quite good, but my inlaws are masters. They have, in just the last week, picked walnuts, hazelnuts, blackberries, apples (cookers and eaters), damsons, plums, sloes… And no, they haven&#39;t snuck into someone&#39;s orchard! They spot a tree as they drive about, and just stop and pick. <br />They&#39;re quite

  • Mike1727 2nd September 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Good harvest there, well done!

  • Cosmic 2nd September 2010 at 1:56 pm

    oo reminds me of childhood!<br /><br />xoxox

  • cartside 2nd September 2010 at 2:01 pm

    It&#39;s so great to do this, we still need to wait a couple of weeks for the blackberries to ripen and I hope we won&#39;t miss brambling this year.<br />It&#39;s a real shame when food goes to waste, not enough people go foraging!

  • Ang 2nd September 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I&#39;m hoping to take Little Miss A this weekend.

  • Muddling Along Mummy 5th September 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I love this time of year – been out brambling and getting sloes this afternoon<br /><br />Just need to work out what to do with crab apples and elderberry

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